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Film Review: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

An outstanding member of the zom-rom-com genre (that’s “zombie romantic comedy”, in case you didn’t know), Shaun of the Dead is a hilarious, gory, and heartfelt movie about a pathetic barfly living with his slovenly best friend at the start of a zombie uprising. The titular Shaun, played by the supremely likable Simon Pegg, must protect his sweetly oblivious mother, win back his disappointed girlfriend, and survive the zombie-fication of the town in order to prove to himself, his friends, and family that he can be more than an underachieving loser. Aided by an excellent cast, including Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Peter Serafinowicz, Kate Ashfield, and of course, Nick Frost as Shaun’s crass best friend Ed, Shaun of the Dead is a zany comedy delight full of quotable lines and excellent visual gags.

As the first of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, this film features many of the same cast members and shares the same style of irreverent, pop-culture parody and visual flair as other projects directed by Edgar Wright. One exceptional scene from Shaun of the Dead comes to mind: a long tracking shot of a hung-over Shaun walking from his house to the corner shop and back while remaining completely unaware of the many changes to the once bustling street now ravaged by shuffling zombies. Shaun of the Dead is, of course, a parody of the zombie movie genre, with the vicious creatures being presented as both dangerous and easily evadable, aspects of which are played up for laughs.

The actual focus of the film, however, is the relationship drama that surrounds Shaun. His long-term girlfriend breaks up with him at the start of the film, tired as she is of going to the same bar every night with the same group of friends instead of trying something new. Throughout the rest of the film, Shaun tries very hard to prove that he can change for her. Aside from trying to win his girlfriend back, Shaun must also deal with helping his perma-adolescent best friend survive the present danger around them, nudging them both toward maturation. Additional hanger-ons, like Shaun’s stepfather or his girlfriend’s dour roommates, all of whom he insists are silently judging him, complicate Shaun’s quest to bring his loved ones to the safety of the Winchester pub but even those simmering emotions and back stories conclude nicely.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 cricket bats

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