Shaun Of The Dead

on September 24, 2004 by Matt Caracappa
If the recent "Dawn of the Dead" remake had you this close to believing "movies like that" could be good, Edgar Wright's "Shaun of the Dead" will shatter all hesitation. Finally, a great zombie movie! Disguised as a romantic comedy!

Shaun (Simon Pegg) and his best chum Ed (Nick Frost) are everyday schmoes: Shaun's in a dead-end retail job, Ed is a lazy marijuana peddler, and both have little ambition or luck. After Shaun gets dumped by his frustrated girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), he responds with an all-night drinking binge at the local dive bar. When he wakes up and heads to work the next morning, the hangover barely lets Shaun take notice of a strange development: London is crawling with zombies.

Inexplicably slow-moving and stupid, the zombies are in perfect tribute to George Romero's championed vision. In fact, the entire film is an homage to the genre co-scripter/helmer Wright loves so much--you can tell by all the inside jokes sure to fly over casual viewers' heads: for example, Shaun's out-sick co-worker is named Ash, as in the protagonist of the "Evil Dead" trilogy, and he works at Foree Electronics (Ken Foree played the lead in the original "Dawn of the Dead"). There are also a number of less-loving spoofs on more recent entries--even fellow Brit horrorfest "28 Days Later" wasn't safe from a subtle jab.

The flair shown in Wright's British sitcom "Spaced" was no fluke. For a zombie flick, "Shaun of the Dead" is incredibly witty, with hilarious, relatable characters that you'll actually--gasp--care about. Given that this is pretty much all horror fans have wanted from their chosen genre, the movie's sure to be a hit with the diehards. It's gory, visceral and smart, never once relying on all the silly CG and/or "shoot in the dark" tricks that have turned many off to American horror. Shaun is an unconventional action hero, but he's one of the best we've seen in years.

Pegg and Frost's chemistry and timing would work wonders for any film--the fact that this one has zombies ripping the guts out of lesser characters just ices the cake. By the time the surviving stars hole themselves up in the same familiar dive bar and hurl record albums to ward off the undead hordes, you'll be hoping this is just the first in a series of thrillers from the team. Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Directed by Edgar Wright. Written by Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg. A Rogue release. Comedy/Horror. Rated R for violence, gore, language and adult situations. Running time: 99 min

Tags: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Edgar Wright, Rogue, Comedy, Horror, zombies, Shaun, Ed, marijuana peddler

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