Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004) follows the perspective of Shaun (Simon Pegg) during a zombie apocalypse in London, and his attempts at survival with his best friend Ed (Nick Frost), girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton), and friends Diane and David (Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran).
Oh man, I love this film so much. It screams with foreshadowing, dramatic irony, intense moments, and idiotic characters, to make one of the best comedies I have ever seen – all because it is showing British society in the narrow world of Shaun, who fails in observational skills of life around him, but picks up in his idealistic heroism of survival.
The great thing about this film, is it’s psychological brilliance – many spectators of zombie films adopt this phase where the hero is an idealised vision of what they would be like in the unrealistic event of a real zombie apocalypse. And what makes ‘Shaun’ so relatable is his own adoption of this idealised vision, where he believes he himself can prevail in such a catastrophic event. If you follow my meaning!
So, basically, Shaun is the epitome of the spectator – even though portrayed as ridiculously slow, un-observational and thus vacant in the world that he lives in. Someone like Shaun is the zombie of the true human world through this characterisation, and yet he is the only human in the imagined zombie world – and THAT is what makes this film so fantastic: the paradox where the idealised ‘hero’ commonly referred to in zombie films, or any film, is neglected for an average and ordinary person who defies social expectations through being the weaker.
This films has an undeniable intelligence to it, and that is barely scratching the surface.
Stylistically, this film is THE definition of Wright’s brilliance. Of course, he’s done some pretty other fantastic films following this (Hot Fuzz (2007), Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010), and The World’s End (2013)), but this has to be my favourite of Wright’s. It defines his influences, his style, and his sheer brilliance as a director – so much so you know he was born for the job. He has an eye and an ear for brilliance, and he brings his full artistic creation into this work immensely.
You really can’t get better than this film. It truly is the greatest zombie film I have ever seen.