Monday, 5 June 2017

Shaun of the Dead (2004) - Film Review


*Originally written June 5th, 2017*

"You've got red on you...."

Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead is one of those films I have seen dozens of times since its release in 2004 and I still love it as much as I did when I first watched. It is quite possibly my favorite comedy of all time and easily my favorite zombie film.

Shaun of the Dead follows Simon Pegg's Shaun, a loser in his late 20's with a dead end job in an electrical store, a relationship that is crumbling and a housemate who is a complete slob. On top of all this, there's a zombie invasion in London.

What works so well with Shaun of the Dead is how it combines all three if its genres perfectly, horror, comedy and romance. At the same time it is also a genius love letter to horror cinema, filled with lots of references and homages to George Romero's work.

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg
The comedic duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are so great here and believable, probably due to the fact they were real housemates before they worked on the fantastic and underrated cult-comedy Spaced on Channel 4. In fact, all the comedy here is just top-notch, it is filled to the brim with small and subtle jokes you only notice on multiple viewings.

There is something endearing about Simon Pegg's character that gives the film a huge heart. It still surprises me how good of a dramatic performance he can give, especially in the last act of the film where things just get worse and worse for him and the characters. I really do relate to Shaun in ways I didn't expect.

Watching this again, I didn't expect Shaun's journey to hit me this hard. Despite obvious differences, Shaun is a character that's very much like me. Lazy, scared of changing and going outside his comfort zone and smokes. All things I'm trying to change right now. Shaun is someone who is a young adult in his 20's desperately trying to change, as am I. Maybe all I need is a zombie invasion to sort me out too?

Nick Frost's Ed is fantastic too, just a weed dealing slob and all around loser that spends all his days playing Timesplitters on PS2 on the sofa. Frost is also part of the central core that provides the heart in Shaun of the Dead. His friendship with Shaun is one that's very real and likeable, despite being a deadbeat. He's makes way for some hilarious and even heartbreaking scenes towards the end.

As a horror film it also works so incredibly well. Even though it is a comedy first, there are some really disturbing and grotesque moments where the film seems to go full on horror. This jarring change of tone could be seen as messy at the hands of a different director, but Edgar Wright's grasp and hold of the film is so perfect that every moment just works.

With Wright's directing you get some really great and stylish set-pieces, most memorable of which is the finale that takes place in the pub. A scene where the cast beat an old zombie to death while Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now' is still one of the best scenes of demented genius I have ever seen in film. I'm always constantly impressed at how wonderful Wright's editing is, making the whole film move quickly and is a breeze of an easy watch. It's 90 minutes that flyby no matter how many times I've seen it.

Kate Ashfield, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
For such a low-budget film, I was also surprised at the amount of excellent licensed music they could get hold of that includes Queen, The Special and Chicago. The film even opens to the music from Dawn of the Dead, which was a nice touch. The score (Which is impossible to get hold of) is also great, fittingly eerie at times and works perfectly within the scene.

Shaun of the Dead is one of those rare films where everything just clicks perfectly thanks to its perfect cast, stylish directing, graphic horror and memorable lines. My favourite comedy and zombie film of all-time.

10/10 Dans

Shaun of the Dead is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK 
Watch the trailer below:

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