Don't Stop Me Now: Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead
Horror comedy. The two words separately, as genres, are fine. I love them both. Put them together and, for me, the two great tastes don’t taste great together. Rarely do I love horror comedies. Just today on Twitter, I admitted to the world I do not like the Evil Dead movies. Yeah, I said it. I see why others might, they certainly aren’t bad films, they just aren’t for me. I can count on two fingers the horror comedies I like. An American Werewolf in London is fantastic. Just watched it again this week and it still holds up. The other horror comedy I like is from this week’s TFS poster boy, Edgar Wright, and his brilliant Shaun of the Dead.
Simon Pegg (co-writer of the movie, along with Wright) is “Shaun”, who seems a nice enough guy. He has a job (salesperson), has a lovely girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), lives in what could be a fairly nice house with his best friend Ed (Nick Frost) and another roommate (Peter Serafinowicz). Shaun spends a lot of time with Ed down their local, The Winchester. Shaun also spends a lot of time with playing video games with Ed. Basically, Shaun and Ed spend a lot of time together, period. Shaun seems to be happy doing the same things, day in and day out. He makes a lot of promises to Liz but never seems to keep them until one day, she gets fed up and breaks up with him.
The break up just happens to coincide with London being overrun by zombies. Neither Shaun nor Ed, both hung over from the night before, don’t really notice anything strange. Let’s face it, nice lads but they very attentive. Eventually, they do start to figure things out when they find a woman in their back yard. In my favorite scene of the film, they start throwing albums at the woman in attempt to what I’m not sure, stun her with Dire Straits? Decapitate her with Sade? Anyway, it’s funny gag and I won’t hear a word about it otherwise.
The lads decide they have to get Liz and Shaun’s mother (Penelope Wilton) and his step father (Bill Nighy) and get somewhere safe. Also, along for the ride is Liz’s friends Dianne (Lucy Davis) and David (Dylan Moran). The safe place is, of course, The Winchester. Most of the group make it to the pub and they settle in to wait out the zombie invasion. When the zombies come to them, they are forced to fight for their survival as best they can with what they have to work with. Death by jukebox seems as good a way as any to die.
Wright and Pegg hit all the right notes in their script. It’s funny as fuck and it also pays homage to the movies that came before it. They use all the tropes from “serious” zombie films like Night of the Living Dead to great comedic effect. Pegg does a fine job as Shaun. He seems to the perfect muse for Wright in not only this, but the other two films in the Cornetto Trilogy, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. The rest of the cast is fine, too. Yes, even Nick Frost (I’m looking at you, RH).
In the lead up to the release of Wright’s new film, Baby Driver, do yourself a favor and revisit his filmography. He’s one of the few writer/directors working today whose oeuvre is full of goodness. Also, yes, we’re all sorry we didn’t get his Ant-Man, but can we all just move on now? Awesome, thanks!