With The World’s End opening this weekend, I decided to revisit the first big screen film from Pegg, Frost and Wright…
SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
Not the masterpiece most fanboys make it out to be, but British flick Shaun Of The Dead is an amusing horror comedy with a twisted sense of humor and some some excellent gore effects. The film mixes the laughs and horror well enough (which isn’t easy as most horror/comedies fail) and actually is a pretty decent zombie film even without the jokes. Simon Pegg plays Shaun, a slacker who yearns for more yet, can’t quite get off the couch to go for it, despite pressure from his pretty girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield). When a zombie apocalypse breaks out, Shaun finds the hero within when he’s forced to take action to save his girl, his mom (Penelope Wilton) and their friends.
Frequent collaborator Nick Frost, in the lovable loser role, plays Shaun’s best friend and bad influence Ed, and the two play off each other very well and their reactions to each other come across as very natural (they are friends in real life). The rest of the supporting cast, including the great Bill Nighy, back them up nicely and all come across as real people not quite able to deal with what’s happening. The group turns to Shaun to guide them as he seems to be the only one with a plan, even if it is only to get to the local pub and wait things out. Director Edgar Wright wisely gives plenty of clever props and nods to the zombie films of George Romero, which clearly influenced Shaun, but while making the movie all his own. The flick has it’s share of flaws though. It is a bit predictable as we know how it’s going to all wrap up as we’ve seen the ‘slacker does good/wins the girl’ story many times before. Frost’s Ed was a bit annoying to me in the earlier scenes and I kind of sided with those who don’t like him much. He has some funny bits and again, he works well with Pegg and the two are fun to watch once the film gets going, but I wasn’t as endeared to the character as others seem to be. Also, some of the scenes of Shaun being lectured by those disappointed in him get tiresome quick. We get the point. He’s lazy. In fact I find the stuff before the zombies show up to be a bit dull and, ironically, the film only really livens up when the dead show up, but maybe that was the point.
Not quite the great movie it’s made out to be, but a fun ‘Saturday night with a few beers’ flick and one of the better horror comedies of the 2000s. An enjoyable flick and a lot of fun, but a bit overrated in the context of all the fuss that’s made about it.
3 fun zombie fighting friends!