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Legacy Review

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

I’ve always been extremely fond of this one (moreso than Hot Fuzz; never seen World’s End). It absolutely nails the comedy-in-a-horror-setting tone, electrified with Edgar Wright’s phenomenal visual energy and comic timing.

I’m a millennial who got into film in the mid-2000s, so it should not be a surprise that the argument over which records to throw and which to save is one of the iconic gags in all of cinema to me. There are plenty of other phenomenal bits too (faking as zombies to get to the pub; the imagined plans of saving Mom and Liz; every instance of Shaun not recognizing zombies as zombies; etc.). I do think “Don’t Stop Me Now” gets a bit too much love; would’ve loved to see that one get even more over the top.

As both a satire and an piece of filmmaking, Shaun of the Dead is impressive. In particular, the contrasting long takes of Shaun’s morning routine is borderline masterpiece stuff, setting up the parallel between Shaun’s depressing life rut and zombiehood. It’s not only funny, but enriches the character and his arc.

This is such a sweet and emotionally satisfying film, too. (I can’t believe I can say that with a straight face about a gory zombie film.) Amazing how we come to care for Shaun so quickly, root hard for him and enjoy the ensemble’s presence and chemistry, even in apocalyptic chaos.

The film sags quite a bit in the second half, in my opinion. While it’s certainly serviceable as a more straightforward zombie movie with occasional comic bits, it’s quite a bit less distinct. The expected beats — killing a zombified loved one; window grab death of an annoying secondary character; gory intestines shot — just feel a bit too by the numbers.

Nonetheless, this is one of the great horror-comedies of my lifetime. The cast is great, especially Simon Pegg, showing some range. The script is phenomenal, with loads of set-ups and payoffs. And it all holds together with that Edgar Wright flair.

(Shame about that Nick Frost n-word quip, though.)

Is It Good?

Exceptionally Good (7/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.


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