Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Shaun is a 29-year-old slacker with a mounting pile of problems. Hes got a dead end job, his roommate is sick of Shauns best friend Ed constantly hanging around, and his girlfriend Liz is sick of his lack of motivation.

Oh, and pretty much everyone in his town has turned into a zombie overnight.

So goes Shaun of the Dead, the 2004 British film that contained the tagline, A romantic comedy. With zombies.

Shaun of the Dead combines several genres. Calling it a romantic comedy may be overstating it a bit; the plot is your typical slacker is called to action due to circumstance story but with atypical circumstances.

The first act of the film (a solid 30 minutes) introduces us to Shauns world. During the day, Shaun hawks electronic goods out of a department store. At night, Shaun is torn between spending time with his girlfriend Liz and their tag-along buddies (Liz wants Shaun to hang out with her two flat mates, while Shaun cant resist bringing his obnoxious best friend Ed with him wherever he goes). The troupe usually end up hanging out at the Winchester, Shauns pub of choice (and the object of Lizs hate). On par with films of this nature, Shaun manages to bungle his Lizs last chance offer, which causes her to finally dump him. And, end scene.

The next day, Shauns world changes, and I dont mean just because hes single. For some unknown reason, the majority of people in Shauns town have turned into zombies overnight. Once Shaun and Ed figure this out, they decide to set in motion a plan rescue Liz, her roommates, and Shauns mother (and kill his stepfather in the process, who the two suspect is already on his way to becoming a zombie), and hole up in the safest place in town the Winchester.

Shaun of the Dead is a lot of things. Sure, its a relationship film, but its also both a zombie flick and a zombie parody all rolled into one. I was never quite sure whether or not the film was taking the zombie angle seriously or not. One moment you have our two heroes flinging vinyl LPs at zombies trying to fend them off, and the next will involve a quite graphic scene of zombies having lunch.

Shaun of the Dead also contains literally tons of references to other zombie and horror films, but they are done in such a way that knowing or understanding these references makes no difference in how the film is understood or enjoyed. When Ed yells, were coming to get you, Barbara! to Shauns mom, those who recognize the line from the original Night of the Living Dead will get an extra chuckle, while those who missed the reference wont feel like theyre missing a thing.

A final caveat; Shaun of the Dead is very funny, very graphic, and also very British. There were more than a couple of times I missed jokes and dialogue because of the actors thick accents. The film is still very enjoyable, but be prepared to rewatch a few scenes and/or turn on subtitles if you want to catch every last one liner from the film.

Shaun of the Dead is a tribute to the zombie genre. Its enjoyable, unpredictable, and packed from end to end with humor, pain, despair and hope. Highly recommended to both fans of horror movies who like to laugh, and fans of romantic comedies who dont mind watching people being torn limb from limb and eaten occasionally.

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