Shaun and Ed are inseparable best friends that share the same hobbies: playing video games, listening to electro, and frequently drinking at the Winchester Tavern. Shaun’s girlfriend Liz is tired of being held back by Shaun and his slacker ways, so she breaks up with him. When he wakes up after trying to drink his sorrow away, he finds the world populated with the walking dead. After resolving to turn his life around, Shaun takes advantage of the apocalypse to take charge and win Liz back. Armed with a cricket bat and a shovel, he and Ed round up their friends and Shaun’s parents and seek shelter at the only safe, secure place they know: the Winchester. With everyone depending in Shaun, will he prove to be a hero or just a washed up loser?
Shaun of the Dead is the classic story of a slacker turning his life around and becoming a hero during the zombie apocalypse. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time because of its perfect balance of horror and comedy with a little splash of romance. I never would have thought that these elements could work so well together, but Edgar Wright’s masterpiece of a zombie film proved me wrong. The buildup to the zombie outbreak is simply perfect. It starts off as a typical romantic comedy with a look into a normal day in Shaun’s life where no one respects him and he lets his girlfriend down time and time again. The next day, he goes through close to the same routine, except for the people he usually sees on his route to the nearby convenience store are all dead, zombies, or gone. One of the things that makes this film great is the repetition. From the first normal day to the apocalypse day, many of the same things are done and said, but mean wildly different things on the second day than on the first. For example, someone commenting “You’ve got red on you” the first day means a red pen exploded in your pocket, but the second day means your shirt is splattered with blood from bludgeoning zombies to death with a cricket bat. There are quite a few things like this (way too many to write about) that provide many laughs and are also a sign of great writing.
Simon Pegg as Shaun and Nick Frost as Ed are a hilarious comedic duo. Shaun is the meek, kind of quiet slacker who lets others push him around. On Z-day, he turns his entire life around and does all the things he has always wanted to do. Ed is the foul mouthed, obnoxious under achiever who makes pretty much everyone uncomfortable around him. He’s still annoying and kind of a jerk on Z-day, but he really comes through for his best friend when it matters. They are definitely an unlikely duo to become leaders during the zombie apocalypse, but at the same time are realistic characters.
Their friendship is exhibited throughout the film, even when they are in the direst of situations. I know people who would go out of their way to kill zombies as if they were in a video game and pick a random location to hide out that might not work out as well as first thought. Although much of the film is funny, there are a few very emotional and touching scenes that brought me to tears. These moments show that the characters have dimensions deeper than their slacker facades. The ability for such a funny movie to succeed in having heartbreaking, tear inducing scenes is amazing and shows a culmination of writing, acting, and directing.
Many zombie films are used as an allegory for social commentary and this one is no different. The opening credits, surprisingly, is where this is most evident, but only on the second viewing. The scene shows many of the people who turn into zombies later in the movie going through their everyday routing: working at mindless, repetitive jobs and doing the same things day after day. Are these people really any different after they become zombies? It challenges the viewer to look at their own lives and judge if they are just good little mindless zombies themselves.
Shaun of the Dead has it all: zombies, humor, romance, loss, video games, and electro. Everyone could find something they like in this film, but it’s required viewing for all zombie fans.
My rating: 10/10 fishmuffins