Right on the heels of the new remake Dawn of the Dead (2004) comes another film, Shaun of the Dead. Basically, just a cheesy rip-off set up to make a couple of overflow bucks from that other film, right? That’s what I thought too, until I noticed it was being billed as a comedy.
A comedy about zombies attacking? Zombies have already gotten the comedy route with My Boyfriend’s Back and Idle Hands (both hilarious), but that was only one or two zombies. Could a mass of zombies be as funny in this film? I doubted it, but I figured I’d give Shaun a try anyway.
None of the actors in Shaun of the Dead are big names, with the exception of Bill Nighy, who plays a smaller part in this film as Shaun’s stepdad. While he does a decent job, the lesser known actors really have to step up in their acting if they want the movie to work. Luckily, they do that very well.
Simon Pegg, as title character Shaun, has the brunt of the film on his shoulders, and he manages to carry it along with wit and charm. He’s absolutely hysterical as the main character, bringing comedy into quite a dire situation without any hint of it being forced. He is easy to relate to, as most people have been in a dead-end situation at some time in their life. His non-movie star looks help out, since he could easily be just the average guy on the street. The other characters are there to help him when the film gets to be too much for him to carry alone, but he probably would have managed decently all by himself.
The plot of Shaun of the Dead is twisted. An average joe goes about his life, totally mindless of the zombies attacking the world around him, until he finally comes face to face with the problem. He must then stand up for what he believes in, no matter what the cost. With that plot, this easily could have become a Dawn of the Dead (2004) rip-off, but the filmmakers decide to try to make a comedy out of it instead.
And boy did they succeed. Shaun of the Dead overflows with small bits of hilarity in this otherwise dire situation, making the audience enjoy the humor that much more because they know what comes next – zombies, blood and gore. With that kind of dichotomy in the film, it could easily have slipped pace, but it never does. The movie is also able to blend a bit of originality to the attacks (example: the heroes hit a zombie about the head in tune to an old Queen song blasting from a nearby jukebox) in an old plot (zombies attack), making the movie that much more entertaining to watch.
The special effects consist mostly of (you guessed it) the blood and gore shots, and Shaun of the Dead does a good job of living up to the effects of it’s zombie film predecessors. The blood and gore shots are just as well done here as in that film, but since the focus is drawn away somewhat by the comedy of the film, the gore shots aren’t as varied as in previous zombie flicks – but then again, they don’t have to be. A couple of different gore shots are enough to show what the zombies can do, without overriding the lighter comedic feel of the film. Luckily, the filmmakers knew this, so limited it as much as they could.
If you’ve seen Dawn of the Dead (2004), Shaun of the Dead is a must-see. It could easily have been just a cheesy spoof of that film, but it wasn’t. It’s more a zombie flick with a romantic comedy twist. I know it sounds weird, but somehow it works for this film.
Shaun Of The Dead isn’t just another zombie gore fest. Bring your funny bone to this one, because this is one zombie flick sure to get you laughing loud enough to raise the dead.