A new dawn

Shaun of the Dead Starring Simon Page and Nick Frost. Directed by Simon Page. Rated R.
Rated 5.0

Because I’m a fan of both British comedy and the zombie genre, this “romzomcom” seems tailor-made for me, for other viewers mileage may vary, as far as my rating goes. But if I could own only one DVD other than the original Night of the Living Dead, it would hands down be Shaun of the Dead.

Shaun (writer/director Simon Pegg) is a workaday loser who spends his evenings with his best chum Ed (Nick Frost) getting loaded at their favorite pub, The Winchester. On the outs with his girlfriend, her friends and even his flat mate and disdained by his co-workers, Shaun seemingly lives a dead-end life getting deader each day.

The two guys are so out of the loop that they don’t even notice at first that their fellow Londoners are collapsing in the streets and rising again as flesh-eating ghouls. When they finally do catch on, there’s only one thing to do: Round everyone up and take refuge in The Winchester!

A dead-on take on bunker horror, Shaun manages to juggle humor, suspense and even pathos with an assured eye. However, the humor takes center stage, ranging from choreographed set-pieces (one involving an auto-playing jukebox’s ill-timed selection of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” is classic) and slapstick to seeming throwaway lines (especially one referencing an iconic line from Night). The script is clever and surprisingly humane, considering the genre. The supporting ensemble is uniformly solid, which is almost unheard of in a zombie flick.

While at times satirical, Shaun casts a loving eye to the mythos; it’s a heartfelt paean to the Romero flicks (essentially creator of the genre as it exists today; George Romero reportedly loves the movie). Only moderately gruesome (one character meets a fate à la Rhoades in Day of the Dead, albeit in a rather bloodless fashion).

Or, to put it in a few words: the best horror comedy ever made.