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Published: 2005-05-08 - 13:30:00
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Shaun of the Dead Review

By Joe Lozito

"Dead" On

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Zombies are so a part of pop culture that "Shaun of the Dead", a zombie horror parody that's also part romantic comedy, spends no time explaining the rules: zombies move slowly and bite; once you're bitten you die then come back immediately as a zombie; only killing the brain will kill the body. What writer-director Edgar Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg do spend their time on is building the character of Shaun, a working stiff with little sense and even less ambition.

The first half of the film contains many of its best moments, as when Shaun walks through his zombie-ridden neighborhood so concerned with his own problems that he doesn't even notice the undead surrounding him. How did it get so bad so without Shaun noticing? Well, he had ample opportunity what with the non-stop news and radio coverage, but Shaun and his couch-potato pal Ed have itchy remote control fingers. Plus, Ed took Shaun on a weekend-long bender to drown his sorrows after his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield, smart without being too perky) dumped him. It seems that Shaun only ever wants to sit around and go down to his favorite bar, The Winchester.

When the zombie menace (which, thankfully, is never explained) becomes clear, Shaun (and, to a lesser degree, Ed) springs into action, rounding up Shaun's mom, Liz and her two annoying friends Dianne and David, and bringing them to - where else? - The Winchester. In a series of amusing flash-forwards, Shaun and Ed try to determine the safest possible haven. They decide on the local pub because, among other reasons, Ed can smoke there.

Since this is not an American movie, the zombies don't lose their bite just because the film is a comedy. Unlike 1996's vampire debacle "From Dusk til Dawn" (which somehow spawned two sequels), "Shaun" is able to balance the comedy and the gore in a way that will satisfy both zombie genre fans and less bloodthirsty viewers.

Once the characters make their final stand-off (another zombie genre staple) at the pub, the film begins to flounder a bit. The characters become a little too stupid and, in the case of the stuffy David, too annoying. But "Shaun" redeems itself with an ending that, like most of the film, is true to the characters and the genre.

What did you think?

Movie title Shaun of the Dead
Release year 2004
MPAA Rating R
Our rating
Summary Writers Edgar Wright, who also directs, and Simon Pegg, who also stars, have taken the zombie genre and injected it with just the right amount of goofiness to make a surprisingly funny and clever zombie horror parody, with just a smattering of romantic comedy.
View all articles by Joe Lozito
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