Shaun Of The Dead
For any fans of the TV series Spaced, which is one of the UKís most inventive and downright hilarious shows in recent years, news that the shows co-writer and star Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright were working on a film Shaun of the Dead was a great premise Ė but what exactly is it? A comedy? A romantic film? A horror? In fact all of the above.
Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 29 year old slacker who is more than content to shuffle through his life which and at a pedestrian rate at best. He shares a house with his best mate Ed (Nick Frost) and pernickety college buddy Pete (Peter Serafinowicz) neither of whom like each other and rely on Shaun to be the mediator in the house. Ed is an unemployed, dope-dealing slob, who does nothing more than sit on the sofa playing on the Playstation 2. Shaun would ideally like to spend all day with Ed on the sofa, but has to go to work at an electrical store where he gets no respect from the rest of the teenage staff.
Shauns problems do not end there as he is terrified of his dour stepfather Philip (Bill Nighy) which means that he only visits his beloved mother twice a month. Also his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield) is fed up with Shaunís lifestyle of spending every night drinking at his favourite pub, The Winchester, with Ed and the fact that Shaun refuses to take any responsibilities in life.
Shaunís problems become worse in the space of one day Ė he manages to fall out with his stepfather, loses what little respect he might have had at work and Liz dumps him. If things seem like they cannot get any worse strange things have started to happen in the neighbourhood, like the dead shuffling around eating the living. Can Shaun stay alive and rescue Liz and his family before itís too late and almost more importantly will Ed ever get his lager and pork scratching?
Shaun of The Dead strengths lie with the simple fact that the whole zombie (sorry, weíre not using that word, letís use Z instead) angle is played in the background for the first half of the film. The film concentrates on the relationships between the characters and the Z issue is played out on television and radio broadcasts. Once the horror is finally comprehended by Shaun and Ed they still donít really bother to try and understand what has happened and rather just deal with it in their own unique style (which to be truthful, they do enjoy staving heads in with cricket bats and golf clubs a bit too much). Its as if Shaun finds that assaulting the undead gives him the purpose in life that he has been missing.
Performances are top notch with the relationship between Shaun and Ed providing the most laughs. Pegg is a very likeable lead and plays Shaun so naturally that you believe that he does spend his time staving in the brains of the undead when not filming. Nick Frost steals every scene that heís in as the loutish, gobby mate right to the very last scene. Both these actors seem to be enjoying every second that they are on the screen and this only enhances their performances.
Other performances are good with a host of cameos of British TV stars popping in, most notably when Shaun and his pals run into an exactly similar group of Ďdoublesí also trying to escape the undead.
Lucy Davis (Better know as Dawn from The Office) plays Lizís best mate and is completely opposite from the dizzy Dawn. Trivia fact Ė she is actually the daughter of comic Jasper Carrott in real life. She is just one of the UK talents in the film which also include Dylan Moran, Tamsin Grieg and Penelope Wilton.
As mentioned before, the success of Shaun of The Dead is the romantic angle rather than the Z issue. Itís ironic to see people being succumbed to the infection who are just ignored as it is normal to see zombie like behaviour from people in London, so nothing seems out of place. One of the funniest scenes is Shaun failing to notice anything is amiss and even wanders down to the corner shop without registering the fact that there are blank-eyed corpses (some laying still and some shambling around) around his neighbourhood.
Shaun of The Dead has it all really, humour abound, the odd touching moment, romance and plenty of gore and horror - definitely one of the best British films in a long time and one that thankfully Hugh Grant is not in. It manages to be a terrific satire on London life and also poke fun at the whole zombie genre. With Pegg and gang already talking about making another film together, letís hope that they can keep up the momentum.
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