It’s been 15 years since Shaun of the Dead came out and, it turns out, I haven’t reviewed it yet. I definitely thought that I had but apparently not. It’s definitely my favourite part of the Cornetto trilogy. Even though that’s not what I said when I reviewed Hot Fuzz back in 2016 but I’m allowed to change my mind, right? And I reckon most people would say Hot Fuzz. I get it. It’s a funnier film and the cast is amazing. I just think Shaun has something more about it. Maybe it’s because it’s not as polished? Or maybe because the parody is s good? Whatever it is, I bloody love this film. It’s common knowledge that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg were inspired by George A. Romero and their passion for those films really comes through. It’s always a joy to watch this film.
Shaun of the Dead sort of defies being trapped in one genre. The closest you can come is a zom-rom-com and it really is the definitive film of its type. There have been a great many pretenders vying for the crown but they can’t compete. Even 15 years down the line, Shaun is still one of the funniest comedy horror films around. It’s fun, sharp, and emotional when it needs to be. The greatest thing about Shaun is that it’s a zombie film that doesn’t really care about the zombies. They’re kind of incidental. This is a film that cares about the people in it and then just happens to get stuck in a zombie film. That’s what makes it seem so realistic. These people, though caricatures, feel like normal human beings, which most people in zombie films don’t.
This film is refreshing and always manages to find humour in unexpected places. It is gory and there is some evidence of tension building. It is scary? Not at all. But it’s funny and clever. It understands the kind of films that it is building off and uses the tropes perfectly. And it’s all brought together by Wright’s masterful direction. He knows how to showcase comedy on the screen. It really is an almost perfect film. Yes, I did say almost.
My only real issue with this film is the same issue I have with all of Edgar Wright’s films. He can’t write women. I know people out there will try and argue that Liz is a well-written female character but they’re wrong. Just because she hits a pub landlord with a pool cue to the tune of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ doesn’t make her a strong female character. What do we know about her? She’s just this mystical figure who Shaun puts all of his hopes into. She is the thing that will change him and help him get his life together. She never gets any real context and there is no depth to her. She’s just the damsel in distress. It’s so infuriating. Imagine what Spaced would have been like without Jessica Stevenson?
Actually, I say only issue but I do hate one more thing about this film. What it has done for that bloody song. ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ isn’t a great song. There are countless other songs by Queen that are much better. It’s just an annoying song. Yes, it’s Freddie telling the world to accept him as he is but, really, it’s just self-indulgent nonsense. And it starts off really weakly. That opening note is just wavering and I hate it. To work, that song needed to start with a bang. I don’t like it and Shaun of the Dead helped turn it into something that idiots use as their personal anthem. It’s too much. Thanks, guys.