(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: Shaun of the Dead (2004)
One Sentence Plot Summary: A man figures out his life during a terrible zombie attack that likely killed millions of people.
Why It’s on the List:
Edgar Wright has been around almost two decades, and it’s remarkable to think about. There are certain films of his that I’m not sure have aged all that well (Scott Pilgrim and Baby Driver), but I became a fan of Wright through Shaun of the Dead. I remember seeing this opening weekend; based on the US box office, I was one of the few. At the time, I appreciated the humor and the way everything set up in the first half was paid off in the second.
As I’ve grown older of course, I see how Shaun is a representation of so many people, people who struggle with their familial relationships, romantic interests, and maybe having awful friends offense. For having such a low budget, this honestly does function well as a baseline zombie comedy. For a comedy to make this list though, there has to be something more Shaun learns about himself and comes to resolve a number of issues in his own life. He lets go of his past by literally shooting his zombie mother in the head (movie isn’t subtle) and finally growing up to save…well, at least his partner.
There is some brilliant casting through this movie up and down. Nick Frost is able to be a bad friend but still likeable at the same time. Edgar Wright does an abysmal job writing and portraying women on-screen, but Kate Ashfield does a tremendous job playing off Simon Pegg and giving the character life. Lucy Davis and Dylan Moran fill in the roles of Dianne and David admirably. Bill Nighy plays Shaun’s dad in a glorified cameo and is just as memorable as some of the bigger characters.
The fact that this movie is able to be so many things is what continues to impress me. I think it’s influenced other works of zombie art and kicked off the careers of both Pegg and Wright. There’s so much happening in very shot, and Wright plants the seeds of what’s happening before actually revealing it in such a confident way. In some ways, I don’t think Wright has ever reached the emotional core of a movie as well since.
*Ed uses the “n” word at some point in a bizarre moment.
MVP and Best Performance: Simon Pegg is a credited screenwriter and is the lead of the movie. There’s almost no way this film functions without him. I think the emotional aspects work because of Pegg’s ability to both deliver the jokes and invest in the emotion as begins losing people in his life.
Best Quote: “I don’t think I’ve got it in me to shoot my flatmate, my mum, and my girlfriend all in the same evening!” -Shaun
Is there a sequel? The Cornetto trilogy is more unofficial than anything else, but Edgar Wright has gone onto collaborate with these individuals more.