Shaun of the Dead (2004) Review: British Wit + Zombies
“Buy Milk. Ring Mum. Dodge Zombies.”
Synopsis: A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living.
Watch now on Amazon
Just about the only way Shaun of the Dead could be more British is if characters drank tea in literally every scene. The sarcastic, dry wit that pervades this tongue-in-cheek twist on the zombie genre is utterly British, and provides a hilarious backdrop to the standard gore that accompanies killing undead. Zombies as social commentary is entertaining; the deep attention to detail makes for a layered movie with lots of in-jokes.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are hilarious together, as always, and their supporting cast doesn’t disappoint: Bill Nighy, Kate Ashfield, and Nicola Cunningham each bring their own panicked flair to the zombie apocalypse. The delightfully banal concerns of the characters is a nice contrast to the usual dramatic arguments that bands of survivors engage in.
And that’s the point – though the survivors of Shaun of the Dead still face death by undead in several surprisingly tension-filled scenes, they do so as a fairly close group instead of the usual band of misfits. Therein lies the cleverness of the movie; it regularly turns tropes on their heads, but with just enough seriousness to keep the movie from devolving into complete silliness. Deep conversations about your relationship during the zombie apocalypse? Check. Being bratty to your stepfather? Check. Hiding from zombies in your favorite neighborhood pub? Double check.
All in all, Shaun of the Dead is an intelligent twist on the zombie genre. Yes, in simplest terms it’s a spoof, but the amount of thought and seriousness that went into the making of the movie ends up creating a surprisingly well-rounded take on standard horror tropes.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: A
Watch now on Amazon