Home > Comedy, Horror > Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Some believe that a zombie movie should be philosophical, offering some form of deep social commentary on the state of humanity, how we treat our fellow man, consumerism, the evils of this or that common social ill. Others believe that a zombie movie should be terrifying, menacing us with the creeping horror that is our own animated dead, tirelessly pursuing us with the simple goal of eating our flesh.

Then there’s these guys.

Shaun of the Dead is a romantic zombie comedy (technically, a zom-rom-com) directed by Edgar Wright, starring Simon “Hot Fuzz” Pegg (who also co-wrote), Nick “Hot Fuzz” Frost, Kate “This Little Life” Ashfield, Lucy “Sex Lives of the Potato Men” Davis, Dylan “Run, Fatboy, Run” Moran, Peter “Run, Fatboy, Run” Serafinowicz, and Bill “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” Nighy.

Shaun (Pegg) is a loser. He fails in his career (a sales manager who gets no respect from his co-workers), his home life (his housemate Pete (Serafinowicz) is annoyed by Simon’s best friend Ed (Frost) living on their couch and selling marijuana), his family life (his relationship with his stepfather (Nighy) is… rocky at best), and his love life (his girlfriend Liz (Ashfield) is sick of going to the Winchester pub every night, and wants to do something – anything – with Shaun that doesn’t involve dragging Ed along). After yet another romantic failure (forgetting to reserve a table at a posh restaurant for a romantic couples’ evening like he promised Liz he would), Shaun’s life seems to be falling apart. With all these personal problems hanging over his head, he doesn’t even notice the zombie apocalypse happening around him for a full half day.

When he does notice, Shaun realizes he has to man up and save the day. Why him? First of all, he’s the hero, and second of all, the only other protagonist nearby is Ed. Think Ed will save the day? Didn’t think so. A plan is hatched that will allow Shaun to pick up Liz from her friends’ flat, rescue his parents from certain doom, reconcile with his stepdad, redeem himself with Liz, and all hole up at the Winchester until the whole thing blows over. Sounds simple? Of course it does. Think it will go off without a hitch? Of course it won’t.

Shaun of the Dead is a tongue-in-cheek take on the zombie apocalypse movie, acknowledging once and for all how hard it is to make a scary zombie movie anymore by simply not trying. The humor is subtle and dry, with a lot of missed important events happening in the background while the oblivious main characters go about their business, and piles of shout-outs and nods to previous zombie movies. Shaun and Ed are unapologetic losers, in sharp contrast to the instant competancy many zombie movie heroes scratch up, and they spend a lot of the movie just trying to get back to the baseline loserhood that they call normal.

The zombies, of course, are the classic Romero “slow zombies”, staggering and shambling patiently towards you with the goal of eating your flesh, though they do show signs of remaining humanity (at one end of the spectrum, they can be fooled by the living heroes pretending to be zombies, while on the other, they mindlessly go about their daily habits in the tradition of most of the Romero zombies and occasionally seem to have dim memories of how things “should” be). The zombie gore can be hilariously jarring when compared with the tone of the rest of the movie, but the whole thing works as an affectionate parody of the whole genre.

So, if you like zombie movies but are sick of the ones that take themselves too damn seriously, pick up Shaun of the Dead. It’s quirky, shambling, flesh-eating fun.

  1. 12/03/2011 at 5:30 pm

    Love this movie and own it. You gotta love the British sense of humor.

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