Movie Review | Shaun of the Dead
Movie Summary: A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living. (IMDb)
Shaun of the Dead is an extremely good film that I've seen a number of times and never get bored of watching. It's not particularly grand in scale, but it's not trying to be, instead focusing on a small group and following them through what turns out to be a brief zombie outbreak.
After Spaced, this was the next thing I saw Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright collaborate on and it almost feels like a perfectly natural progression from that show to his movie. The tone is similar, as are the characters, although things are obviously a little more specific here with a limited run time rather than multiple episodes to finish everything.
This focus does allow for a lot of zombie genre 'Easter eggs' and homages that never distract from the story, but are simply there for those with the knowledge to spot them. Shaun never shies away from its genre either, with enough gore and blood to fill a lake.
It's strange that something usually so disgusting could be used for comedic purposes, but it always works, and just makes the scenes where things do become serious all the more effective because the audience has been conditioned to laugh and the change in mood proves highly effective.
Pegg and Frost display their usual incredible chemistry together that only comes from being long-term friends, and their interactions are almost always the highlights of the film. Fittingly, the relationship between Shaun and Ed is shown as being just as important as the one between Shaun and Liz (played by Kate Ashfield).
That's not to diminish their relationship or how it's portrayed, but it's always welcome to see male relationships on films that aren't just centred on a love interest. Liz's character is almost perfectly written and performed too, with Ashfield expertly treading the line to stop her character from coming across as a stereotypical nagging girlfriend.
Lucy Davis and Dylan Moran provide sterling support as mismatched couple Dianne and David, with the latter coming across as the most antagonistic thanks to his jealousy of Shaun's relationship with Liz, and his fate comes after an argument started where he is actually in the right even if how he makes his point leaves more than a little to be desired.
Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton are also great, especially the latter as Shaun's mum, Barbara. The relationship between the pair is sweet, and feels perfectly natural. It's this easy-going rapport between all of the cast which makes the ending so bittersweet.
The film might have a romantic comedy as part of its makeup, but is still a zombie movie and the body count does slowly build up, with not even the main cast safe from danger. The film never 'cheats' either aspect, with the story perfectly balanced between the tones.
Shaun of the Dead is a fantastic film filled with great characters that most people should thoroughly enjoy spending their time with. It's a little rough around the edges, with what is obviously a small budget pushed as far as it can possibly go, but that only adds to the charm.