I was just digging around my old AOL Journal (as yet another form of procrastination). I found my review of Shaun of the Dead. So here it is, originally published on October 22, 2004 (at 4:40pm).
SHAUN OF THE DEAD
I knew I would like this movie before I even sat down. The tagline on the poster outside reads: “A romantic comedy. With zombies”. Well, two out of three isn’t bad. There’s plenty of comedy and plenty of zombies, but not much romance. It’s not missing entirely, but the movie has better targets in mind and no one is going to leave the theater complaining that there wasn’t enough kissing.
I really hope no one sees this movie expecting an actual romantic comedy or worse, to be really scared, because the film is pure laughs. The zombies are really more of an inconvenience that keeps getting worse as the film progresses. At first, our hero Shaun doesn’t even notice them- in a hilarious extended scene where Shaun does exactly the same thing he had done the previous day, oblivious to the fact that there is blood everywhere and the dead walk amongst him.
Shaun’s world starts out as both monotonous and all-consuming. He is going nowhere as an employee at an electronics store. Even when having a heart to heart with his girlfriend about getting a life, he can’t be bothered to change the scenery from the pub he frequents or tell her friends and his to take a hike while they sort things out. These every day problems keep him in enough of a rut that dire news reports and television warnings to stay inside go unnoticed. I imagine there’s supposed to be some thinly veiled social commentary when even the viewer can’t tell at first who is a zombie and who is not- such is our workaday lifestyle! But the movie doesn’t spend any time dwelling on such observations before amping up both the violence and the comedy.
The movie does resort to the usual horror cliches from time to time. For every hysterical scene like Shaun and his friend Ed trying to decide which of their vinyl records they can part with before hurling them at oncoming zombies, there’s also obligatory horror items such as one of the survivors trying to hide the fact that they will soon be forced to switch sides.
Overall, the comedy is sharp and fresh- even if it wasn’t, the premise alone keeps one from ever being bored. It’s easy to like Shaun and root for him as he finds his untapped courage while battling under strange circumstances. The film should not be frightening to anyone over twelve, but there are a few moments where things do look grim, even for the residents of a zombie “spoof”. The ending is inspired and I believe it is what might really happen if we were ever forced to share the world with the undead.