Friday, September 18, 2009

27 Days of Fright (The Reprint) - Day Fifteen

Originally Published Monday 20th October 2008

Shaun of the Dead

When I put the list of films together for the 27 Days I decided early on how some themes were going to be loosely addressed at certain points, like in the last week the movies will all be about vampires as Hallowe’en this year is vampyre themed and the second last week will deal with the big name classic horror films. I decided that around about the midpoint, before things got serious I’d lighten the mood with a comedy, hence last night’s flick, the Rom Zom Com, “Shaun of the Dead”.

Shaun of the title (Simon Pegg) is a regular bloke in his late twenties who is having difficulty growing up. He still lives with two of his mates from college, he spends every night in the same pub, his girlfriend Liz leaves him and he’s getting abuse at work from his teenage colleagues. His less than perfect life is then shattered when people around him start turning into zombies.

With his mate Ed (Nick Frost) Shaun sets out to rescue his loved ones, namely his ex-girlfriend and his mum, and take them to safety in the best place possible – the pub! Along the way they pick up some extras, like Liz’s flatmates and his step-dad. Of course this wouldn’t be a zombie movie without loads of zombies to battle and in the vein of all good disaster horror films some of the group get killed off.

You've got red on you!

The storyline for Shaun of the Dead is pretty basic but the humour is anything but and the comedy of Pegg & Frost in this situation works incredibly well. There are some proper funny moments like the scene in the pub where Ed is trying to cheer Shaun up after Liz dumps him, and the bit where they put their rescue plan together is laugh out loud stuff.

Shaun gets onto the 27 Days list as it is a horror film and there are plenty of gory scenes and lots of blood flows. The horror also has some very mature moments like Shaun dealing with his relationship with his step-dad who turns zombie, as well as facing up to having to kill his mum who is also turned - the bit with his mum is particularly hard to watch and is definitely a pure horror moment. Unfortunately this scene marks the beginning of the end for the film as it becomes too hard to laugh at anything from that point on and I’m not sure the film-makers even tried to make much of a comedy out of the final act at all.

The film is full of subtleties like the full coke and diet coke dilemma (Shaun rejects diet coke before trying to get his life in order) and the hints on the radio and TV about the origin of the zombies. There is a clever dig at how modern takes on horror themes don’t call the monsters what they are, in Shaun when they say that they’re not using the “Z” word (zombie) it’s like the TV series Ultraviolet never using the term vampire, but the most subtle joke though is the TV news reporter getting cut off at the end as they say that the idea of the zombies being caused by rage infected monkeys is bullshit (a joke about 28 Days Later – a film where the word Zombie is never used).

There are loads of familiar faces from modern Channel 4 style British comedy with people you’ll recognise from Black Books, Spaced, and even yer man Matt Lucas from Shooting Stars (I don’t like Little Britain, so he’ll always be the man with the scores George Dawes to me!) making an appearance. It is unfortunate however that Jessica Stevenson (Pegg’s flatmate from Spaced) doesn’t have a bigger role, but I guess that would just make Shaun of the Dead “Spaced: The Movie” then.

Shaun of the Dead is the first in the “Three Flavours Cornetto” series (also known as the “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy”), with “Hot Fuzz” the unlikely sequel and “The World Ends” being penned at the moment. I for one can’t wait to see what these guys will do next.

Two thumbs up for Shaun of the Dead!

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