Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
It isn't often that a brand new film elbows its way onto this site. In fact, Shaun Of The Dead is the first film ever to appear on these hallowed pages whilst still showing at the UK cinemas. There is a reason for this - usually, modern Brit horrors fall into one of three camps. They're either:
a. Borderline British, big budget affairs which everyone who cares has already seen (Dog Soldiers, 28 Days Later, Underworld);
c. Crap (Long Time Dead).
Shaun is none of these things. It's a wonderful, properly British, properly entertaining, genre-defying slice of truly British horror, and I urge everyone who takes even just a passing interest in the ramblings on this site to go and see it immediately.
Yes, it could be described as Spaced: The Movie, but a knowledge of (or even a liking of) that particular sit com is not required. Yes, it could also be described as a homage (horrible word, that) to films like the original Dawn Of The Dead (although I'd say it was nearer to Italian splatterfest Zombie Flesh Eaters), but once again, it doesn't alienate people who haven't got a Masters Degree in the work of Lucio Fulci.
This is a film which knows that the main reaction by any sane person to the really gory zombie films is to laugh. So if you're already laughing when the entrails get pulled out (and they do), then all you're going to do is laugh more. Because Shaun is not just a balls-out zombie film, of the kind never before made in this country. It's a very funny film as well, and it's funny because everyone sitting in the cinema knows that if they were in that situation, they'd choose a cricket bat as a weapon, rather than something with a sharp edge. They'd stop and ask if a zombie they'd just run over was okay. They'd even probably get half way down their own street on a Sunday morning before noticing that the locals were even more dopey than usual. Because we're British, and it's what we're like.
So, for one of the few times in recent history, what we have is a properly British horror film, despite its Euro-flavoured roots.
What's more, it's an ensemble piece as well, bringing to mind Brit classics like Theatre Of Blood. Like 'em or loathe 'em, Shaun presents us with a comedy cast which is going to be seen as a "wow, how did they get all them into the same film?" dream showing in years to come. People from Black Books, The Office, The League Of Gentlemen, Little Britain, Ever Decreasing Circles, and of course Spaced are all there on the big screen - battling their way through hordes of horribly realistic zombies.
Shaun is everything a horror film should be. No, scratch that - it's everything a British horror film should be. Funny, scary, touching, and nasty. Even the special effects (not a single use of CGI, by the look of it) are nothing short of perfect. It even uses my favourite Queen song during the funniest scene.
All I can hope is that this film really can kick-start a great British horror revival, by showing film makers in this country that they don't have to make the UK answer to Jeepers Creepers or Jason X. They can use the skills which only usually get ploughed into stuff like Love, Actually to produce a horror film which everyone, even my horror-hating wife, will enjoy. Just like Shaun Of The Dead.
Last updated: February 27, 2010
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