Who loves zombie horror? Kel loves- no, wait, that’s a reference to the wrong show entirely. Still, I’m sure there are a few of us who’re fond of the old ‘Braaaaains’ routine. Zombies can be really terrifying, especially the ones that don’t shuffle along being outrun by passing snails. Zombies that move fast scare the living daylights out of me, given the right atmosphere to watch the relevant horror in.
Shaun of the Dead, however, is not your typical zombie horror. In fact, it’s a brilliant parody (known as a rom-zom-com in some quarters) and while, yes, it has some gory bits – and when I say it’s comically gory, I’m pretty sure that’s deliberate – it’s mostly just hilarious. Sometimes humour is exactly what you need, and when you see Simon Pegg and Nick Frost billed together, you know that’s exactly what you’re going to get.
Directed by Edgar Wright, Shaun of the Dead forms the ‘red’ flavour of the famous ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, which also comprises Hot Fuzz and the upcoming World’s End. Shaun (Pegg) is having a pretty terrible day and decides he’s going to turn his life around. With his best friend Ed (Frost) in tow, it’s time to take on the world and win; he’s going to get his girlfriend back, sort things out with his mother and her partner, and oh yeah – they should probably do something about all the zombies suddenly chasing them, too.
For a comedy, the death toll’s pretty high in this – it’s not King Lear in terms of percentages but corpse-for-corpse they’re pretty even – and nobody’s safe. However, being killed by zombies, as it turns out, can be really, really funny. There are some great meta moments, too – at one point, two fairly evenly-matched teams of top British comedians cross paths on similar missions. Well – maybe not quite the same mission, since Shaun’s motley crew have by this point decided to go to the pub, have a pint, and wait for the whole thing to blow over.
Shaun of the Dead, unlike many zombie films, is one of those brilliant gifts that keeps on giving – you can rewatch it as many times as your DVD player can stand and the chances are you’ll still find a new joke you hadn’t noticed each time. It’s clever, really clever – though the zombies aren’t – and shamelessly self-referential in parts. Listen carefully, at the start of the film, when Ed explains his plans for the next day; it’s just possible that he’s not as thick as he seems. Well, sort of.
The thing about reviewing a comedy is that if I tell you all my favourite bits, it’ll ruin it for you. Much as I respect the editor’s right to give us word counts to aspire to, I don’t want to give away all the best jokes in what really is a fantastic film. So I’ll leave it to you lovely Wanderers to get yourselves a copy and have a watch if you’ve not seen it (and it came out in 2004, so you really should have seen it by now). I reckon you’ll enjoy it, as long as you’re not incredibly squeamish, whether you’re a fan of the zombie genre or not. The plotline’s solid, the jokes are great, and the cast is impeccable. So give it a go.
I’d give this film 4 out of 5 – perfect for a silly afternoon watch with your mates.
Eleanor Musgrove (will be at the Winchester)