Review: The Dead Don’t Die

I thought I would switch it up by reviewing a film this time because 1) I’ve not been reading as much over the last two weeks and 2) I am really into horror at the moment.

The Dead Don’t Die just came out in the UK on June 14 and it has been the first ‘horror’ film I’ve seen in the cinema in maybe a year. I was very excited to see this film as the trailer made me think that it was going to be incredibly funny and would poke fun at the zombie movie genre. Having seen the painfully old but cult film, The Night of the Living Dead and other zombie classics, I was excited to see some of my favourite actors on screen in a comedic take on the genre.

You can probably tell by now that the film was not as great as I hoped.

The trailer promises the typical tropes of zombie-killing nonsense and does lead you to believe that the film has a coherent plot.

The synopsis for the film is also encouraging:

“In the sleepy small town of Centerville, something is not quite right. The moon hangs large and low in the sky, the hours of daylight are becoming unpredictable, and animals are beginning to exhibit unusual behaviors. News reports are scary, and scientists are concerned, but no one foresees the strangest and most dangerous repercussion that will soon start plaguing Centerville: the dead rise from their graves and feast on the living, and the citizens must battle to survive.”

From both the trailer and the synopsis for the film, I was led to believe that this would be a dark comedy and be a good commentary on the dead-killing phenomenon that we seem obsessed with since The Walking Dead slumped onto our television screens.

WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS.

This film was disappointing.

The director,  Jim Jarmusch, is known for the oddball cult film – the Only Lovers Left Alive featuring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. Like the previous film, The Dead Don’t Die fumbles its way through some sort of plot but this time it leaves you confused. You’re not confused because the story is somehow complex, you are confused because the whole story is so inconsistent then there is a forced message slapped on at the end for some reason.

Jarmusch decides to make the whole zombie apocalypse thing about how we humans are always consuming and never thinking. SURPRISE! We are the zombies. This would not be an annoying concept if it hadn’t been crowbarred into the end of the film.

The performances by the actors, who are good actors, were at times stale and full of repetition due to the script. The one line Adam Driver’s character, Ronnie, states over and over again “this is going to end badly” is funny the first time but feels out of place. When he repeats it again, it is not only infuriating but I rolled my eyes.

The main issue I had with this film is that it had too many threads that never went anywhere and despite the amount of potential storylines that seemed to coexist, it was so slow. There were over 15 characters whose storylines we touched on. 15!

Tropes were started but never followed through. An example is at one point, Selena Gomez’s character calls the gas station clerk and sci-fi nerd Bobby by his name instead of an insult causing an almost snapchat effect of glowing gold dots to spread around her face as if she is now his crush.

Then it is never mentioned again. They never see each other again.

What was the point of it? 

This happened repeatedly within several storylines to the point where I wanted to leave. I am not a fan of subversion in film and tv. I am not a fan of foreboding that goes nowhere.

I am personally a fan of writing which at least attempts to be original rather than making you sit through 2 hours of a film before going “Gotcha! You thought this was going to happen but it doesn’t!”

It is one of the most irritating approaches to writing and what’s worst is people think it’s original. It’s not. It’s a copout.

This film screamed of someone trying to be edgy. It has been affectionately called hip by most newspaper movie critics. I wouldn’t say it was hip; I would say it really wanted to be hip. The use of some of the main characters breaking the fourth wall felt unneeded and almost cheesy. What is worse is that it served no purpose. It didn’t give me insight to the characters, it didn’t explain anything that was going on and it didn’t make me laugh. It was a strange addition to an already incoherent film.

The Dead Don’t Die could have been great if Jarmusch had just used a handful of tropes from B-movies and the Zombie genre instead of trying to use all of them. If the amount of tropes and qualities of the film had been reduced then it would have stood a better chance of being a worthwhile contribution to the films that exist to mock horror films.

The only part of this film that I liked was Tilda Swinton’s odd samurai sword-wielding character who was exceptional at cutting down those zombies. She was great.

Overall despite a famous (and talented) cast, and all the promise of a good film, it failed to even keep my interest. I would not even watch this film again which is saying a lot especially when Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Adam Driver are in it.

0 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for reading x

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