Shaun of the Dead is certainly an entertaining tribute to an old horror classic, the George Romero-directed Dawn of the Dead. It’s one of those movies that takes ideas from an older piece of work without looking like a cheap, stale imitation. There’s enough of an original spin for Shaun of the Dead to stand on its own. That’s certainly a good thing. And on top of that, you’ve got an interesting cast and plenty of entertainingly gory scenes. So, really, you can’t go wrong with this movie.
I like how the title character of Shaun, played by Simon Pegg, is practically a zombie himself. He is the epitome of slacker men, the kind who prefers to watch television and play video games over anything else and has a girlfriend who is frustrated with his slothful habits. His laziness is also evident when we, the audience, notice signs of strange things going on and Shaun is practically obliviousness to them. In fact, when he takes a walk to a convenience store, he acts like it’s a typical day, even when no cars are being driven in the streets and some people are walking very strangely.
The story is pretty much an expected one. With zombies everywhere, Shaun gathers his friends and family for their safety and survival. They include his friend Ed (Nick Frost), his now ex-girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), Liz’s friend Dianne (Lucy Davis), Dianne’s boyfriend David (Dylan Moran), Shaun’s mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton), and Shaun’s stepfather Philip (Bill Nighy). As a team, they escape their homes, against the advice of local news reporters, and make their way to the Winchester Tavern for safety. Even with a group this large, there’s still the possibility that something could go wrong, because the hordes of zombies easily outnumber them.
What’s interesting about Shaun of the Dead is how there is enough gore to satisfy the horror fan and also plenty of humor to entertain comedy fanatics. For example, when Shaun and Ed encounter zombies in their backyard, they throw anything they could at them, including Shaun’s prized collection of vinyl records (they even talk about which records Shaun doesn’t mind being hurled at the zombies). Also, there’s a scene where three characters are repeatedly beating one zombie with pool cues while an upbeat song by Queen is playing from a jukebox. It’s as if there’s a need to have fun even in a scary situation. All of this is happening as Shaun is trying to win back Liz, a premise that works even in the context of horror.
Basically, this movie isn’t anything special, but at least it knows how to have a good time. For me, I laughed at the jokes and gags and admired the main characters, especially Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as, respectively, Shaun and Ed. Speaking of those two stars, I think they work pretty well as a comic team in my opinion. I wouldn’t mind seeing them paired up again in another comedy. Overall, if you want to enjoy a horror movie without being frightened, Shaun of the Dead is a good option for you. It doesn’t try to take itself seriously, which is perhaps the most essential requirement for good comedy.
Anthony’s Rating: 8/10