SHAUN OF THE DEAD (Edgar Wright, 2004)
What do you do when your girlfriend dumps you and the next day you wake up to discover the city crawling with zombies? If you’re the protagonist in SHAUN OF THE DEAD, it’s time to splatter some undead brains and win back your woman. Shaun is stuck in a routine in which he goes to his dead end electronics store job and then retires to the neighborhood pub each night. His girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) fears Shaun will never change and breaks up with him. Distraught over the end of the relationship Shaun and his roommate Ed go on a bender only to awaken to a fate worse than a hangover. Zombies are terrorizing London, so Shaun and Ed set out to save his mom and Liz.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a romantic comedy steeped in the tradition of George Romero’s zombie films. Writer-director Edgar Wright and co-writer and star Simon Pegg have terrific fun riffing on zombie lore. The best recurring joke is that there isn’t an appreciable difference how everyone behaves in their pre-zombie and undead states, aside from wanting to munch on the brains of the living. SHAUN OF THE DEAD follows the familiar arc of a zombie film and populates the story with archetypal characters. Somehow, though, the love story and relationships become critically important and pull their dramatic weight in an otherwise silly film. Rather than standing for rampant consumerism, here the undead and potential zombies represent obstacles to two people committing to a relationship. It doesn’t sound like it should work but it does.
(Review first aired on the September 28, 2004 NOW PLAYING)