BluRay/DVD Reviews

SHAUN OF THE DEAD

By • Dec 21st, 2004 •

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What’s that? A British comedy you say? Hugh Grant is it? No? Well, at least Richard Curtis will have written it so it should be o.k. What? He’s not involved either? Surely you jest!

No I do not. Thank God there are some courageous people out there or this would never have been given the green light, which would have been a tragedy because it’s one of the most original, refreshing and downright funny British films for years.

No-hoper Shaun (Pegg) is stuck in a rut. His life is on hold, much to the frustration of his girlfriend Liz (Ashfield). The situation is not helped by the ever-present Ed (Frost), Shaun’s best friend, but who sadly is a lazy, computer game playing slob with the tendency to drag the devoted Shaun down with him. Shaun’s life revolves around (apart from Ed that is) his local pub, the Winchester, but Liz wants him to motivate himself, to be more adventurous and more ambitious. She fails however and finally gives him the elbow. Shaun is gutted. He drowns his sorrows with Ed and in doing so misses out on the overnight takeover of the planet by undead zombies (‘don’t use the ‘Z’ word!’). The next morning, in his hung over state, he routinely walks down to his local shop but is totally oblivious to the carnage and the aforesaid walking dead all about him, only finally noticing when two turn up in his garden. After trying to dispatch them by throwing various kitchen appliances and long-playing records (selected – not the good stuff), Shaun finally discovers that a good whack about the head with a cricket bat does the job. After this rude awakening from their booze induced slumber, Shaun and Ed decide to rescue girlfriend Liz, Shaun’s dotty mother and a stepfather he’s never gotten along with and take them somewhere they know is safe and secure – the Winchester of course. Easier said than done…

The origins of the title are obvious and, billed as ‘A Romantic Comedy – with Zombies’ or a ‘Rom-Zom-Com’, this is exactly what it says on the can. The Zombies are suitably Romero-ish and deadly serious; the action is as graphic as it gets with guts being ripped out and limbs ripped off (but still handy for beating zombies over the head with) and, although there’s plenty of humour along the way to keep the mood light, there is genuine anxiety when these touchingly drawn dysfunctional characters are in jeopardy, which stops it short of being an EVIL DEAD 2, which was funny but plain silly.

The entire cast is excellent, particularly Pegg (who also co-wrote the script) and Frost, who virtually reprise their roles from the comedy series SPACED, which also starred Jessica Stevenson and Peter Serafinowicz who have smaller roles in this also. The rest of the cast consists of other luminaries from recent Brit-com series BLACK BOOKS and the award winning THE OFFICE, plus the terrific Penelope Wilton (CALENDAR GIRLS) and Bill Nighy (LOVE ACTUALLY, UNDERWORLD) as Shaun’s mum and stepfather.

The special features are extensive, in fact more than I think I’ve seen on any other DVD, and include, as well as all the usual stuff, the full length spoof TV spots and news bulletins that we only see snippets of in the movie, a video diary of two extras who played a couple of zombies, four different audio commentaries and lots more.

I’m still chuckling at single lines from the movie (‘I don’t really think it’s in me to shoot my flat-mate, my mother AND my girlfriend all on the same day…’) and I really can’t recommend this highly enough to both horror and Brit-com fans.


Cast:
Simon Pegg
Nick Frost
Kate Ashfield
Penelope Wilton
Dylan Moran
Lucy Davis
Bill Nighy
Jessica Stephenson
Peter Serafinowicz
Cameos: Martin Freeman, Chris Martin

Crew:
Produced by Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Natascha Wharton, Alison Owen, Jim Wilson
Executive Producer: Alison Owen
Script: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Directed by Edgar Wright

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