Movie Review – SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)

Posted on by Cheekerson

 

Shaun Of The Dead Header

 By Nathan Peterson

Starring – Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davies, Dylan Moran, Penelope Wilton, Bill Nighy

With the impending release The World’s End, the final film in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, I thought it would be useful to take a look back at the other two films in the “series”.  First up, Shaun of the Dead.

SotD (as it shall be known henceforth) is not only the first film in the trilogy, but also the first feature film to be co-written by Pegg and director Edgar Wright, who had already worked to great effect on the TV show Spaced.  It also manages to shoe horn in other Spaced alum, including co-star Nick Frost, as well as Jessica Stephenson.

 

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The film follows, unsurprisingly, the directionless and somewhat unlucky-in-life Shaun (Pegg), as he battles to survive a zombie apocalypse.  He must first save his best friend, his mother and his girlfriend before finding a safe location to wait in until it all blows over.

Back in 2004, Pegg was by no means the household name he is today, although his work in the aforementioned Spaced, along with other TV shows like Big Train and I’m Alan Partridge, had somewhat triggered my interest.  His comedy style seemed to range from the deadpan to the absurd, and I liked that versatility.

So when SotD arrived, I was intrigued, but by no means was I certain I would be walking in to a definite hit.  But how wrong I was.

In the last nine years, SotD has become a cult favourite, for good reason, and almost perfectly epitomizes the comedy-horror sub-genre.  It is filled with laughable characters, slick, smart dialogue and comedic actors who are more than up to the task of delivering those lines to perfection.

 

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Aside from the humour, the horror is not too shabby either.  Whilst this will never be the film to give you nightmares, the zombies would not look out-of-place in a “legitimate” zombie film.  Given the budget of SotD, approximately $4million, this is a credit to both the make up department, and the attention to detail of the Pegg/Wright.  This could have ended laughable, and not in a good way.

As I mentioned above, the acting is strong, especially considering the lack of feature film experience that most of the cast will have had at that time.  Pegg and Frost excel, and for me, I don’t think there is a better double act in film right now.  They may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but they have the perfect chemistry, born out of both their love of the craft, and their very real friendship.

The supporting cast all do fabulously, and the cameos from Stevenson, Matt Lucas, Reece Shearsmith et al, add an extra layer of comedy genius to an already funny film.

Edgar Wright is an exceptional director, especially for his age (a meagre 30 years old when SotD was made), and this film shows what he is capable of with tight finances.  He proves that you do not need large explosions, or sprawling scenery to create something vivid and imaginative.

Shaun of the Dead (I’m wrapping up now, so I will use it’s full title) is an exemplary specimen of British film making.  The gags are funny, the acting is well above par, and the directing is excellent.  It has spawned hoards of attempts to recreate it’s magic, but has delivered a head shot to each and every one of them.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Did you know? Other than Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Rafe Spall and Martin Freeman are the only actors to have featured in all three The Flavours films? ¥Favourtism

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