A pastiche of the zombie genre gloriously independent of franchise, SOTD shrewdly spoofs the undead concept – drawing hilarious parallels between 9-5 desperation & subject in rootable trio of British bums and impressive camera stylism. 7.9/10.
Plot Synopsis: Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 30-something loser with a dull, easy existence. When he’s not working at the electronics store, he lives with his slovenly best friend, Ed (Nick Frost), in a small flat on the outskirts of London. The only unpredictable element in his life is his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), who wishes desperately for Shaun to grow up and be a man. When the town is inexplicably overrun with zombies, Shaun must rise to the occasion and protect both Liz and his mother (Penelope Wilton).
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Official CLC Review
Of The Dead. Night Of The Living Dead. The Walking Dead. The Evil Dead. Dawn Of The Dead. Shaun Of The Dead. One would be easily forgiven for getting weary of this incessant barrage of zombie flicks that – for some inexplicable reason – have never heard of the concept of changing name to differentiate yourself from your competitors and add some creative flair. I popped in SOTD expecting another slog of undead-isms forever paling in comparison to Romero’s early works over 50+ years ago, but was delightfully surprised by something that is nothing like past zombie efforts – yet encompasses the best of all of them too in a peculiar potion that’s sensationally divertive. A pastiche of the zombie genre gloriously independent of franchise, SOTD proves a gifted screenwriting comedy team can find plenty of laughs in the apocalypse – shrewdly-spoofing the undead concept by drawing hilarious parallels between the horrors of 9-5 desk-jobs/routine & subject with a rootable team of (Pegg-led) British losers, expressive typography & satirical elegance by Wright, rom-com and genre-homages, and kinetic whip-panned camerawork.
The comedy. Shaun Of The Dead is the funniest horror spoof ever made. It might be one of the funniest films this century – there, I said it. From its opening scene talking about people in the distant third-person only for them to be sitting at the table with them to listening to intense pump-up music in the most boring of places like public transportation to laughability in job for a 29-y.o.: video store clerk to singing classic rock only to have zombies supply the groan harmonies to throwing pizza boxes at zombies to (apparently) stop them to not putting up a fight to save a hated stepdad from turning to taking selfies with flesheaters mid-attack, SOTD is comedic gold that instantly catapults it to the top of modern (comparatively-disappointing) genre lists. There’s meta self-awareness on display too masterfully subverting genre expectations to side-splitting results like teasing the zombie apocalypse with news snippets and ominous scoring only for something like a phone call to interrupt it at the climax – absolutely brilliant! Amidst all these laughs though is a surprisingly advanced, dazzling display of witty social commentary too. Massive parallels are drawn between the undead and day-to-day routine deprived of spontaneity or pulse: 9-5 cubicle fair, suburbs, drone/brainless jobs, mass media culture, etc. are all juxtaposed with its surgically-deconstructed concept for a script that lands nearly every punchline & joke it serves and maneuvers as well as flips almost every zombie cliché as nimbly as its characters navigate hordes of flesheaters to get to the Pub.
Make no mistake though: this zombie flick has some dark edge and (surprising) stylistic flair too – with great characterization to beat. When the apocalypse finally gets going – after Edgar Wright and company blue-ball us endlessly with teases – it is fantastic with all the gore and slow build-up to classic-looking pale, white-eyed undead flesheaters we expected and were delivered gloriously. The camera stylsm also deserves special praise for a unique, indie combo of techniques you rarely, if *ever* see, nowadays. Intricacy in ultra-zoomed, quick-cutted revolving shots playing up daily routine functions like food, coffee, bathroom, etc. furthering its social commentary on deprived-spontaneity in 9-5 life is bounced off impressive long-shots tracking our main character through the streets of London for minutes on end to one of the most intriguing courses of stylism in recent horror and zombie history. Finally, the characters are fantastic – from Simon Pegg’s immaculate loser lead just steeped in down-to-earth realism and relatability by anyone watching, supported nicely by Ashfield and Frost all the way to U.K. Office cameo’s Lucy Davis and Martin Freeman for a ragtag team of British losers you can’t help but root for in this standalone, franchise/series-less one-off that refreshingly feels like its own thing.
Flaws are limited to rate of motion for the zombies – and David. While the intensely slow state of the zombies is purposeful and used well in comedic gags like the disc throwing getting to go through the whole collection and only use unwanted ones as decapitation methods, it isn’t exactly that scary having the zombies move only a solid mile an hour or two – a slightly more accelerated rate when they see prey or crowd for instance would’ve been a bit scarier to better appeal. Finally, the biggest vice in the film: David. A Harry Potter-looking twat whose incompetence and disregard for anyone but himself – even to the point of shooting people’s turned-family without even giving them proper time to grieve – is wildly grating as the worst – and only bad – character here that does somewhat detract from the otherwise-sensational experience.
Overall, SOTD is the funniest horror satire – and one of the funniest total films in CLC’s opinion – ever. Despite a selectively-problematic range of motion and one problematic character in David, it effectively maneuvers the bludgeoned flesheaters genre’s clichés as nimbly as its characters weave through crowds of the deceased for a bloody good (indie-black comedy-feeling) time at the cinemas that stands as one of the freshest self-sufficient products so far in the early-2000’s. A pastiche of the zombie genre gloriously independent of franchise, SOTD proves a gifted screenwriting comedy team can find plenty of laughs in the apocalypse – shrewdly-spoofing the undead concept by drawing hilarious parallels between the horrors of 9-5 desk-jobs/routine & subject with a rootable team of (Pegg-led) British losers, expressive typography & satirical elegance by Wright, rom-com and genre-homages, and kinetic whip-panned camerawork.
Official CLC Score: 7.9/10