This weekend, I suggest you go and see Shaun of the Dead, not just because it’s one of the best English language films released this year, but also because I command you to.
This Edgar Wright film stars Simon Pegg (who, along with the director, co-wrote Shaun…) as routine-ridden TV salesman Shaun, and no, unlike what the title suggests, he’s not dead, but pretty much everyone else is. Undead, I mean. Unlike other movies of the genre, the actual undead are not the focus of the movie, which is the main reason I like it. This isn’t some exercise in machismo and silicone enhanced breasts bursting from tight, sweat soaked t-shirts like most American horror movies; for once, the tagline for a movie reads right: “A Romantic Comedy. With Zombies.”
It’s not just a romantic comedy either; there’s some pretty emotional scenes in here, and only one gun (well, a few more show up at the end, but it doesn’t matter). This will sound screwy, but Shaun… is the closest we’ll get to a realistic account of what would happen if, indeed, shambling zombies did rise up and clog the streets. The characters are normal people, they behave in normal ways and come up with normal plans, and because of their utter lack of traditional heroics they end up being much more heroic. Simon Pegg, in particular, puts in a great performance, and the supporting cast (even the zombies!) are anything but cardboard cutouts.
But perhaps Shaun…‘s greatest achievement is its subtle messages about our own zombie society. To say more would be heading into spoiler territory, so I’ll just say this, to those who’ve seen it: That was one hell of an epilogue, huh? This part of the film will probably be lost on most viewers who just want to see blood and guts (and in that department it doesn’t disappoint, going for fewer gory scenes, but more effective ones).
So shamble to your nearest cineplex and see a guy in a white shirt take on hordes of gurgling undead armed only with a cricket bat (which, if you’ve ever held one, you’ll know is much more effective than those puny, light baseball bats). Don’t see it if lots of gore and violence puts you off, though. The equally excellent Ying Xiong might be a good alternative.
And remember, if you get cornered, bash ’em in the head, that seems to work out.