Saturday, March 10, 2012

#572. Shaun of the Dead (2004) - The Films of Edgar Wright

Directed By: Edgar Wright

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield

Tag line: "This September, aim for the head"

Trivia:  Because of the similarity of their titles, distributors were forced to hold this film back until two weeks after the Dawn of the Dead remake was released in the UK

In most zombie films, the news media is usually right on top of the situation, transmitting images of the walking dead to a shocked and horrified public almost as quickly as they happen. With Shaun of the Dead, writer / director Edgar Wright answers a question I always asked myself as I watched those other movies: what about those poor devils who never catch the evening news? 

Shaun (Simon Pegg) is having a really bad day. For starters, his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), just dumped him, saying she's fed up spending night after night at the Winchester - Shaun's favorite pub - where they're usually joined by his obnoxious best friend, Ed (Nick Frost). 

Then, Shaun remembers he promised to pay his mother (Penelope Wilton) a visit, despite the fact he can't stand being in the same room as her second husband, Philip (Bill Nighy). 

As if all this weren't bad enough, the dead have risen from their graves, and are feasting on the flesh of the living. Along with everything else, Shaun must now figure out a way to save both Liz and his beloved mother from the sudden onslaught of bloodthirsty zombies. 

Talk about a full plate! 

Besides being ignorant of current events (he and Ed don't switch on the TV until well after the apocalypse has started), Shaun isn't very observant in general, and fails to notice time and again that all hell has broken loose around him. In one of the film's cleverest sequences, we follow Shaun as he walks to the corner store early one morning to pick up a soda. Now, we made this exact same trip with our hero the previous day, when the most hazardous obstacle he encountered was a flying soccer ball. This time, however, the journey is a tad more perilous. Aside from the blood splattered everywhere, we notice car windows have been shattered, front doors broken down, and those who are out walking the streets are doing so much more methodically than they had 24 hours earlier. 

We see this...but Shaun doesn't. 

When he finally arrives at his destination, he strolls over to the refrigerated section, grabs his usual drink, and lays his money on the counter, oblivious to the body parts strewn about the store. He then shuffles out the door and heads for home, always one incredibly lucky step ahead of the slow-moving zombies.

Shaun does finally figure out what's going on, at which point he devises a plan that, in essence, allows him to play the hero while remaining the shiftless layabout everyone assumes he is: he wants everyone to gather at the Winchester and "wait it out"!  

The sequences in which he puts this plan into motion are among the film's most uproarious, with moments that are equally as terrifying. 

A funny story that never shies away from the bloodshed, Shaun of the Dead strikes the perfect balance between horror and comedy, bringing them together in a way that will undoubtedly satisfy fans of both genres.


beep said...

The scene where they encounter the 'drunk' woman and realize that something seems to be amiss when she manages to put a gaping hole in her abdomen is both priceless and jaw dropping.

James Robert Smith said...

To me, this film was more effective as a horror film than as a comedy.