Shaun of the Dead : The first of the ‘Three Flavours Cornetto’ trilogy, helmed by Edgar Wright, is exactly what you’d expect and not at the same time. It’s a light parody on some of the tropes in your average zombie film, but packs some devastating moments. It follows Shaun (Simon Pegg), his parents, his girlfriend (and her two best mates) and his best mate, Ed (Nick Frost) on the worst day of their lives (and, if they’re unlucky, the last).
Feeling good.Shaun of the Dead nails the tone and feel it’s going for. Its lackadaisical atmosphere is what creates much of the humour. Many of Shaun and Ed’s reactions are understated and overly calm in the face of death. They deal with the everyday minutia of modern life while zombies hunt them down. It’s hilarious and easily the funniest of the ‘Three Flavours Cornetto’ trilogy. The tone also helps us to relate to the characters. They aren’t badass zombie slayers, they’re struggling young people, trying to find their place. There are times where this calm and reserved tone works against the film and slows the action down a bit too much, but there is always a good reason for it.
Apocalypse please. The first act of Shaun of the Dead is beyond praise. Subtle hints of the zombie apocalypse are littered all over the place. From radios in the background, to extras looking ill, pale and tired to newspaper headlines, the film’s attention to detail is magnificent. It creates unease in what would’ve been an otherwise generic first act. This attention to detail is consistent across all of Edgar Wright’s films, but Shaun of the Dead is perhaps the most accomplished in this regard. Every event is foreshadowed with clever dialogue and imagery and repeat viewings are highly rewarding.
Time is running out. Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead have some of the best third acts I have ever watched. Every detail no matter how insignificant is somehow utilized. Whether it be references to video games, extras in the background or what characters were wearing (assuming they were wearing anything) when they were bitten, the film pulls them together for its final few tense scenes. The writing builds the tension by slowly upping the danger and reducing what resources the characters have, but even on a technical level the film builds tension. The cuts get faster, the shots get shakier and the sounds are louder. It’s fantastic.