Pegg it from the Zombies
To describe "Shaun of the Dead" as a horror would be wrong, as a comedy would only be partially right and as a romance would be near enough off the mark. No, what "Shaun of the Dead" is, is a combination of all 3 with them emphasis firmly set on comedy as it uses elements of classic zombie horror to provide the frights whilst throwing in a pretty basic romantic sub plot which acts as meaning to all the goings on.
Shaun (Simon Pegg - Hot Fuzz) leads a pretty bland life, of going to work and drinking in his local, The Winchester, with his best friend Ed (Nick Frost - The Boat That Rocked). But Shaun's fallen out with him Mum and Step-dad as well as his girlfriend who has dumped him for not paying her enough attention. Determined to get his sad life back on track, Shaun decides to pull himself together only to discover an unrelenting and unexpected army of zombies getting in his way.
To be honest I had no intention of watching "Shaun of the Dead", I heard so much hype about it and it really didn't seem to be my sort of thing, especially as a British comedy horror sounded doomed to be dire. But I was wrong and "Shaun of the Dead" is one of the funniest movies to come out of Great Britain for quite a while, proving that not only sometimes the hype is actually true but that we Brits can do comedy which doesn't purely revolve around romance and a floppy haired Hugh Grant.
"Shaun of the Dead" stays very true to the original zombie movies, where the undead moved slowly and were only a threat when in their masses, rather than the current trend of zombies which manage to run instead of lumber. Plus it follows the stereotypical set up where a group of people hide out in a building as they try to work out how they can survive. Not that there is anything wrong with this as "Shaun of the Dead" is not primarily a horror and any attempt to develop the genre would probably not have worked. It is watching these stereotypical scenarios placed in the world of comedy which makes "Shaun of the Dead" so much fun to watch.
Being a British movie, the references from American zombie movies are still there but adapted to our way of life. The group of hapless heroes don't hide in a shopping mall but head for the local pub. Weapons of choice for battling the zombies are not guns but spades, cricket bats and I think a hockey stick as well, oh and a record collection, a scene which will undoubtedly stick in your mind as it does for the zombies. The adaptation to being British works brilliantly and just takes that British stereotype that one step further so that it is fun instead of patronising.
Another thing which appealed to me was that it never relied on blatant gore, with most of the blood and guts going on in the back ground rather than in your face. That's not to say there are no frights when it comes to "Shaun of the Dead" but they are few and far between and usually turn out to be funny rather than scary.
Aside from all the humour and horror there are some pretty decent performances from most of the cast. Simon Pegg as Shaun and Nick Frost as his buddy Ed rightly steal the show, the pairing work brilliantly together and are pivotal to why "Shaun of the Dead" is enjoyable. Kate Ashfield is perfect as Liz, Shaun's ex who is utterly convincing along with Lucy Davies who plays a failed actress who is called upon to teach an impromptu lesson in how to act like a zombie to her fellow survivors. Others in the movie include Dylon Moran and Penelope Wilton but most notably Bill Nighy who cracked me up as Shaun's detested step-dad Phillip.
Usually I don't care for movies which have overly dominant soundtracks but "Shaun of the Dead" is one which benefits from having easily recognizable music in many a scene. You won't help but laugh as Shaun, Liz and Ed taken on the zombies as Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" is playing or when Shaun and Ed treat us to a drunken rendition of "White Lines". On this occasion I would say that the "Shaun of the Dead" soundtrack is partly what makes the movie so much fun.
What this all boils down to is that "Shaun of the Dead" is basically a good fun movie, which will appeal to horror fans as well as those who generally don't like watching scary movies. It has one of the funniest scripts that I have witnessed from a British film in quite a while and is made all the better from some decent performances especially from Pegg and Frost. I do wonder whether the British Humour will translate effectively for those in other countries but no matter there is plenty of fun in this comedy horror even if you don't understand all the gags.
Tags: Zombie Movies