Review: Shaun of the Dead

Ever have one of those days where you stumble around like a zombie and you just wanna KILL someone…?

Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a thirtysomething slacker living in London. With his aspirations already fulfilled to manage an appliance store and play video games in his spare time with his flatmate Ed (Nick Frost), his only ambition is convincing his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) not to leave because he never takes her anywhere but the local pub. Everything changes when the walking dead mysteriously start to appear all over the neighborhood, and with life as they know it falling to pieces, everyone reluctantly turns to the only person that still seems to be taking it all in stride: Shaun.

Since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, there has been an underground fascination with zombies on film. The origin of zombies actually stems from the Haitian practice of voodoo (where the enemies of the priest were killed and ressurected to serve them), but Romero’s 1968 film takes honors for deciding the modern rules: zombies are driven to consume the flesh of the living, the bite kills its victims and turns them into zombies as well, and only destroying the brain can kill the living dead. In films such as these, the word “horror” in no way implies comedy or anything amusing.

Sure, the horror-comedies did grow out of the movie monster saturation of the late 1980s (ever notice how Freddy’s sweater keeps getting cleaner?), but most of them rely upon making fun of the very people and subjects that made the films popular to begin with. What sets Shaun of the Dead apart from newer films like 28 Days Later is that it follows the rules of a real zombie film while relying on the personalities of the participating characters to supply the laughs; it’s a real horror film populated with funny people who just happen to be about to die horribly.

The cast of virtual unknowns (to American audiences, that is) gives it their all, especially Nick Frost as the lovable roomie that all your friends hate but would still do anything for his bud (if it doesn’t take too much effort, that is). To tell you any more about the plot and what happens would be to rob viewers of the experience, but pay attention to everything going on to get the maximum effect. If the world were really being overrun with zombies, who better to trust with your life than someone you wouldn’t trust with anything else?

(a three skull recommendation out of four)

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