Shaun Of The Dead (2004)

(In theaters, October 2004) It’s a zombie movie! It’s a slacker comedy! It’s a romance! And surprisingly enough, it’s actually quite good! These are two-days-in-the-life of Shaun, British lad with relationship problems and no clear goal in life. But that’s all about to pale in significance as the zombie problems goes from background chatter to full-blown problem. Plans are hatched. Sight-gags abound. Wishes are fulfilled. Stuff happens. Through it all, Shaun Of The Dead manages a tight act holding together elements of three different kinds of movie into a cohesive whole that never betrays its characters. Sure, you can point at moments here and there where the characters are unbelievably stupid, or where “it can’t happen like that!” Still, the film feels unusually clever at combining background jokes, zombie-movie lore and everyday British life. Nice, funny and constantly interesting. Most recommended, especially if you found fault with the dreary 28 Days Later.

(Second viewing, On DVD, March 2005) Not quite as surprising upon a second viewing, this horror/comedy/romance hybrid nevertheless survives well to an encore performance. The performances feel natural, the writing is crisp and the direction moves its pieces with admirable efficiency. As a respectful take-off on the notion of zombie films, it’s not bad at all. The DVD contains tons of extras, all of whom are worth watching, sometimes surprisingly so.

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