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If you saw the trailer for Netflix’s Cargo that was released last week, you may have thought of a zombie apocalypse. It looks awesome (both Cargo and a zombie apocalypse), and it also got me thinking about some zombie films I’ve seen. I then opened an Instagram poll between Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, two zombie movies that are great fun to watch. Shaun of the Dead won with 79% of the vote, which makes it this weeks review.
Edgar Wright directs the story of Shaun, a 30-something-year-old man who lives the same repetitive day. Wake up, go to work, come home, go to the pub, sleep, repeat. He lives with his best friend Ed and Pete, who wants Ed out of their house. Shaun is also experiencing some relationship issues with his girlfriend, Liz. Shaun wakes up after a night out to start his usual day, only to realise that there has been a zombie invasion. He formulates a plan with Ed to help them escape the living dead and save their loved ones.
First, off the bat, Edgar Wright is a genius. He takes a basic and simple idea then turns it into one of the best zombie movies around. The direction and camera work were amazing. From the uses of pans, like Ed going to check if the zombies are still there, to a camera staying in place, like when Shaun climbs up the slide to see if the coast is clear. The best camera work goes to the quick cuts, it’s one of Wright’s signature cinema moves. Wright also directed ‘Spaced’, a sitcom on Channel 4 from the late 1990’s, where he worked heavily with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The chemistry between the director and the two leads was fantastic, and it’s nice to see this chemistry continuing throughout the Cornetto trilogy. My two favourite characters were both played by Pegg and Frost. Simon Pegg played Shaun, the hero who attempts to save his friends and family from doom. Nick Frost played Ed, Shaun’s best friend from primary school, who is a bit of a loser. Both characters are equally funny in their own ways, and that mainly goes down to the dialogue, my favourite being ‘kill the Queen’ from the pub fight. There’s even some foreshadowing from Ed, but I’ll get to that later as that’s one of my favourite parts of the film. Kate Ashfield plays Liz, Shaun’s ex, but when the zombies attack, Shaun (with a little help from Ed) devise a plan to help rescue her, her friends and Shaun’s mum from the attack. Ashfield clearly enjoyed playing this role, but I felt she could have been a bit more lively or enthusiastic as a character. David also seemed a bit dull, and I personally didn’t really like his character.
I see Shaun of the Dead as the origins of Edgar Wright’s latest hit, Baby Driver. This is illustrated by the infamous pub fight at the Winchester. Synchronised perfectly to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, the gang take down John, the pub’s owner. There are other great musical moments in this film. One of my favourites is the opening of the film, with the use of ‘The Blue Wrath’ by ‘I Monster’. This song was perfect for the opening, as it suited the zombie-like behaviour of humans actions wonderfully. I think the use of Queen’s ‘You’re My Best Friend’ gave the films ending a bittersweet tone that reminded us that nothing is stronger than the power of friendship. Not even a zombie attack!
The story and plot were amazing. Wright took a simple idea and added comedy to it, which was blended perfectly into this film. One of the best things was the foreshadowing by Ed. I saw this online a couple months back, and it blew my mind. Early in the film, Ed says that ‘We’ll have a Bloody Mary first thing, a bite at the King’s Head, a couple at the Little Princess, stagger back here and BANG! Back at the bar for shots!’ Personally, I think this is so smart because the next day the boys find a zombie called Mary in the garden, then to Phillip and Mary’s house, where a zombie takes a bite at Phillips’ head. The boys go to Liz’s flat, then stagger back to the Winchester on foot pretending to be zombies. Finally, shots are fired in the Winchester from a shotgun that hangs above the bar. Pure genius, or as Ed would say, it was a slice of fried gold!
Now for my favourite moments, and there’s a few of them. I love the opening as it sets out the style of the film immediately. A day on repeat with everyone acting like a zombie, with the funky electro of ‘The Blue Wrath’ playing to emphasise that this is not your usual horror zombie flick. The scene where Shaun goes to the shop oblivious to zombies was amusing, as we’d just seen Shaun do this trip a day earlier. It highlights the repetitive day and how we rarely see or experience change in our day to day lives. One of the best bits from this oblivious to zombies was the channel surfing. It doesn’t follow the cliché of the protagonist being explicitly told that there is a zombie apocalypse, but sneaks it in in a fun and entertaining way. It was amazing! Then we come onto Shaun and Ed’s first encounter with the zombies with the records and the locked shed. I love the chemistry between both Pegg and Frost in real life and Shaun and Ed in the film, and this is perfectly shown in the record discussion scene, which had me in fits. I also liked the plan, as the music for it was awesome and it was executed in a funny and entertaining way. The rest of the film is littered with great comedic moments, but one of the best has to be the bar fight synchronised to the music was so much fun to watch. I did find the film a little slow moving in places, and I would have liked less of a focus on Shaun and Liz’s relationship. I would take that back if we actually have more of an establishment of their relationship. It seemed kind of tacked on to the film, but the movie was still enjoyable nonetheless.
Shaun of the Dead gets an 8/10 from me. Though I didn’t like some of the acting choices and some of the plot, the film certainly makes up for it in comedy, especially from Shaun, Ed as well as the camera work and dialogue.
Thanks for reading week 12 of Ryan’s Movie Reviews! Follow for my WordPress with your email to be the first to read my reviews, on Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) to vote for what I review and for the latest movie news, and on Twitter (@RyanReviewsFilm) for the latest movie news. I booked my Infinity War tickets this week, and the hype is unreal. Expect a review of that soon, one with spoilers and one without.
Once again thanks for reading my Shaun of the Dead review, let me know what you thought of the film in the comments. Join me next week for a review of a Spielberg sci-fi film. See you then!