Shaun of the Dead is only the second zombie film I have ever watched (the first being World War Z), yet despite my lack of experience I could certainly tell that Edgar Wight’s first film is the pinnacle of this genre. Wright’s use of music is masterful, and I was constantly surprised at the way he used visuals and setting to create unconventional humour. While the plot sometimes felt misplaced and the jokes sometimes fell flat, the entire cinematic experience was unlike any I have had before. To see such a generic storyline treated with such novelty and creativity was truly engaging.
The plot of Shaun of the Dead is only distinguishable from any other zombie flick by its sheer exaggeration of pre-existing tropes of the genre. After being dumped by his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), Shaun (Simon Pegg) and his room mate Ed (Nick Frost) find themselves in the centre of the zombie apocalypse. Unsurprisingly, the braindead menaces they face can only be destroyed by damaging the brain or removing the head. The film follows Shaun and Ed as they journey through the desolation of their small town to save their family and friends, culminating in a bloody showdown at their favourite bar, the Winchester.
While this movie is of very good quality, I would say that it appeals to a niche audience, particularly old fans of Edgar Wight or veterans of the zombie genre. This may be the reason that, despite its critical success, Shaun of the Dead was a box office flop. As someone who falls into neither of the aforementioned groups, I enjoyed myself watching this film but also found myself scratching my head at some of the writing and filming decisions. Another important note is that there is some highly mature content in this film, mainly profanity and violence (including one spectacularly gory death near the end). I think, all in all, a film like Baby Driver would be a more accessible entry into Edgar Wight’s style.