In light of the recent events in Chicago, I figured I’d review this film, as it lies in Yahoo’s Top 100 Modern Classic Films.
Shaun of the Dead is a hilarious, genre-redefining film (self-touted as a Romantic Comedy With Zombies). While many zombie films are funny because of their unintentional absurdity (bad acting, effects, execution–pardon the pun…), this is a meta-zombie movie in many ways, as it not only does what a great zombie movie should do–be a social commentary of some kind–but it also comments on zombie films as a genre.
It blatantly comments on the nature of society as a dull, daily grind, with the bulk of people unaware of the world around them, zombie-like in many ways. Shaun is stuck in the same routine, a member of the oblivious majority. Shaun notices a few oddities going on around him at first, but doesn’t pay attention as there are news reports about some kind of virus spreading throughout the country, even as he walks through a 28 Days Later type of deserted, trashed street and blood-spattered convenience store. Not until his girlfriend breaks up with him is he snapped into awareness and he must fight the literal and metaphorical battle against the steadily advancing horde, trying to absorb him back into the mainstream. Furthermore, in the end, as they’re flipping through channels, we see that society has recruited zombies into menial labor, further illustrating the point of social mindlessness in some areas.
This film plays on the cliches, the staples of zombie films. They use quite a lot of gore, to absurd excess at times, there’s a lot of running, and a lot of emotional strife in the midst of a separate, physical conflict.
Much as I like Pineapple Express for the portrayal of a fight scene the way that real people would actually fight, this is similar. It always seems in zombie films that the people always know pretty much what to do. However, Shaun and company are regular people using cricket bats, golf clubs, and field hockey sticks to survive. They’re rather inept, but they don’t have a truly elaborate plan–they’re just trying to survive.
This is a good addition to the Modern Movie classics list, as it puts a new spin on a well-worn genre.
More recently, Zombieland has done similar things, and I’ll add my review about that soon!
This film, being the first in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s “Blood and Ice Cream” Trilogy of comedic genre films, is followed by Hot Fuzz, which parodies Buddy-Cop-Uber-Action Films, and will eventually be followed up with The End of the World in a few years.
For additional reading, Simon Pegg has written an article criticizing the rising trend of “running zombies.”