Shaun of the Dead (2004) / Comedy-Horror
MPAA Rated: R for violence, gore and language
Running Time: 99 min.
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis, Penelope Wilton, Bill Nighy
Director: Edgar Wright
Screenplay: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
From the duo that brought you the TV show, “Spaced”, comes Shaun of the Dead, a mix of farcical comedy and gory horror movie. Like many other British comedies, Shaun gains most of its laughs at the sheer absurdity of the situations, and through the funny characterizations.
Simon Pegg plays Shaun, a single Londoner approaching his 30s, whose attractive girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield, Late Night Shopping) has been growing increasingly impatient by his inability to mature. Stuck in a dead-end job, living with feuding flatmates, and a genuine feeling of lethargy, Shaun makes an earnest attempt to keep Liz, but it backfires badly on their anniversary. Just when the day couldn’t get any worse, flesh-eating zombies have begun to emerge out of nowhere, and the whole city, and perhaps all of humanity, as we know it, is about to come to an end.
It’s not easy to mix broad comedy and wanton carnage, so credit writer-director Edgar Wright for succeeding without much of a hitch for as long as he does. Only in the final half hour does the tone begin to strain from the weight of the horror elements, which finally begin to supersede the comedy at the expense of the overall entertainment value. Inside jokes permeate the bulk of the scenes, and savvy film buffs will love this movie on a level even higher than the casual viewer, especially those who’ve seen the classic zombie flicks like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead (of course!), Day of the Dead, the Evil Dead series, and even 28 Days Later…
Shaun of the Dead is good for some solid yuks, especially to watch with your friends and have a good time. There isn’t much meaning one can derive from it, and despite the unevenness on occasion, this is a much better film than one might think it could ever be, given the somewhat ridiculous plot. An instant cult classic.
©2004 Vince Leo