One Cut of the Dead
Despite this one being located "under the radar", it seems pretty evident that there are a lot of people out there who are familiar with this title. Personally, I've known of its existence since its 2017 release. Word spread about it being an absolutely solid Japanese horror/comedy flick, but for whatever reason, I just never gave it the time of day until now. My final conclusion though, spoiler alert, is that this is a unique example of how to take two completely overdone horror clichés and make something really good out of them.
This film manages to blend the concepts of found footage and zombie films and create what could be considered a work of directorial art from them... and that's just the first part of it. With that said, I'm going to try my best to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, and that is going to be extremely hard. So perhaps focus should mostly go to this first half. It entails a hack director, Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) who gets frustrated with his film's actors, and we see him storm off. Meanwhile, we learn through actors Chinatsu (Yuzuki Akiyama) and Ko (Kazuaki Nagaya) along with makeup artist, Nao (Harumi Shuhama) that the abandoned water filtration plant they're shooting in has a pretty horrific history.
This history, of course, involves human experimentation and the eventual lead to zombification. Before long, the zombie film 'One Cut of the Dead' within the zombie film 'One Cut of the Dead' turns from fantasy to reality, as actual zombies terrorize the set. This, in turn, actually results in a pretty wonderful combination of comedic moments and high adrenaline. The comedy comes from zombies often being mistaken as actors, but the adrenaline comes from what is essentially a 40-minute single shot of zombie action, complete with chase scenes, gore and things that would be very hard to do in a single take. So huge kudos to these guys for managing it!
As far as the second part of it goes, that's where things get extremely tricky. There's a big reveal, and it gets way too deep into spoiler territory, but I will say this about it - it's very clever! If you want to know what's what and don't care about spoilers, then I'd urge you to take a look at the Wikipedia plot synopsis for this because from my perspective, I'd sooner highly recommend just watching the movie. It's a Shudder Exclusive at the moment, so if you don't have Shudder, you may be SOL. But if you can find a way to watch it, I'd say it's worth the approximate hour and a half, if only to refresh one's perspective on found footage and zombie films.
To top everything off, this is also a film largely dedicated to people who are into filmmaking and the whole behind-the-scenes process of everything. It has some truly unique ideas, it doesn't hold back on making you laugh, and it's also just very impressive filmmaking altogether. The one-cut concept already makes the movie pretty awesome, but then when the tables turn on the film, and the reveal happens, it's enough to make one want to applaud the real writer/director of this, Shin'ichirô Ueda. Once again, I'm happy to say that my mind is opened just a little bit more after checking this one out. If you enjoy found footage and/or zombies on any sort of level, this one comes recommended highly by yours truly.
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