Shaun of the Dead
With the release of Edgar Wright's latest film, 'Last Night in Soho', I thought this would be a good opportunity to focus on my all-time favourite director with a few re-writes. We kick things off with what put his name on the map in the first place, 'Shaun of the Dead'. Even at the time of its release, it developed a bit more of a cult following, and shockingly enough, I was actually iffy about checking it out. A part of me thought it looked kind of dumb, and I ended up passing on it.
Eventually, I managed to rent it after its video release, and immediately fell in love with it. This is a film that I HAVE to show anyone who hasn't seen it yet, because it's just that awesome. It's one of Wright's films that does a good job of speaking to the masses as it's both a zombie survival movie (released in 2004, just a month after 'Dawn of the Dead'), and a "regular Joe" story.
What some people still don't entirely realize is that Wright wasn't exactly going for a farce on zombie films with this. Generally speaking, if you see a zombie film, it's a lot of military, a lot of action, there's always some ex soldier etc. He just wanted to take a bunch of regular, everyday, people and depict how they might react in a zombie scenario. And of course, as British humour goes, it gets quite creative - especially in how it ends, but that's all I'm going to say about that. That dry British humour in an extreme situation always gets me, and I feel like this is where that appreciation all started for me.
The film follows Shaun (Simon Pegg), who is in the middle of a breakup with his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield). It's fairly typical - to keep it short, she wants more than he's offering. While Shaun is comforted through this by his best friend, Ed (Nick Frost), Liz confides in her flatmates, David and Dianne (Dylan Moran and Lucy Davis, respectively). The tough times are about to get even tougher though, as there is a zombie apocalypse unfolding in front of them, slowly but surely. I love the way it's handled here, as it's so eventual, and Shaun seems so oblivious to everything around him.
Once Shaun and Ed realize what's going on, however, they spring into action in an attempt to rescue Liz, her flatmates, Shaun's Mom, Barbara (Penelope Wilton) and her husband, Philip (Bill Nighy). The rest of the film is pretty much all of them trying to survive the night, often resulting in some hilarity, but it does a good job of offering up some true horror and drama as well. For as much as this is a straight up comedy, it's true that it doesn't feel entirely farcical, as there are certain elements to it taken from other, more serious zombie movies. The fact that this is able to gauge different emotions is honestly impressive, since going into this, one would easily assume it's just plain goofy.
'Shaun of the Dead' is the first film in the "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy"; each film depicting comedy blended with a certain genre as well as a certain Cornetto flavour. For those unfamiliar, a Cornetto is essentially what a Drumstick (the ice cream kind) is in North America. This one is representative of red strawberry - the red depicting horror, or more specifically, zombie horror. At the time of its release it was a sort of stand-alone cult movie, but it has since picked up through word of mouth, and gained some popularity. To this day, it is my all-time favourite zombie movie, and it will be very difficult to dethrone.
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