Hi 88 / Lo 71
|Volume 70, Issue 23,
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Life & Arts
Horror and hilarity ensue in 'Shaun'
By Jason Gagnon
A good horror film is something that is extremely difficult to create but attempting the ever-tricky horror comedy is something infinitely more challenging. You've got to carefully balance the frights, laughs and gore or else the movie just fails on all counts. Thankfully, Shaun of the Dead succeeds in this task above and beyond the minimal requirements, and stands as a classic of the genre alongside Dead Alive, Return of the Living Dead and Night of the Creeps.
Shaun (co-writer Simon Pegg) has a pretty lame life. He gets no respect at his dead-end job, his stepfather is a royal jerk and his girlfriend Liz is quickly losing interest in their mundane routine. All he's got to keep him happy is Ed (Nick Frost), his slovenly roommate with whom he spends his free time either playing video games or hanging out at the local pub. Once Liz dumps Shaun, he naturally gets blitzed and then vows he will sort out his life the next day. Of course, an infestation of zombies isn't going to make this task any easier.
The film is essentially a hilarious, blood-soaked love letter to the Dead trilogy of George Romero. It carefully follows the rules set forth by the Zombie Master while having a blast with the idea of a bunch of average people dealing with an extraordinary situation. In this case, Shaun and Ed decide to round up their loved ones and head to the pub to drink, be merry and wait the whole thing out.
Frost and Pegg play off each other perfectly and are the film's greatest strength. The scene where the duo rummages through their record collection to find audio waste to throw at zombies is priceless, as is the scene where they rejoice at a moaning zombie aiding their drunken rendition of "White Lines."
But there is also plenty of the sticky red stuff thrown about to make viewers looking for some good ol' blood and guts smile with glee. Keep an eye on the background throughout the movie to catch some of the more brutal yet excruciatingly funny gore moments. It's not all fun and games though. The movie adds a comedic twist to Dawn of the Dead's critique of consumerism and there is actual character development, so when someone bites the dust viewers actually care.
Those looking for a wicked-fun horror movie, look no further than Shaun of the Dead. It's one of the strongest genre films of the year.
Shaun of the Dead
Rated: R for Zombie Violence/Gore
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield
Verdict: A lovingly blood-soaked, comedic tribute to the best in zombie films that is innovative and brilliant.
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