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Strangely unfunny deadpan comedy

/movies/860042/the-dead-dont-die
Review of The Dead Don't Die
by David Drucker
Posted on September 6th, 2019
Neutral 4
Overall Rating
 
+

Full-disclosure: I am a big fan of zombie movies, and an even bigger fan of Bill Murray (who had a pretty good cameo in 'Zombieland', so he's not a stranger to this kind of material. 

However. this is a very frustrating comedy. I kept wishing it would pick up steam, but it just seemed to plod along, like the zombies. Murray and Adam Driver are very skilled actors, but the script seemed so flat and colourless that it rarely produced more than a chuckle from me. At a couple of key points, scenes 'breaks the 4th wall' (seem aware that it is a movie, although they don't look at or address the audience directly), but somehow even that doesn't work the way it should.

Tilda Swinton plays a bizarre mortician wielding a katana (like Michone of 'The Walking Dead') who always addresses people with their full first and last names, but nobody seems to notice.  If those 3 A-list actors weren't enough, Chloé Sevigny, Selena Gomez, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi and Danny Glover all have supporting roles, but nobody seems to go above the dull script.

Worst of all, the zombies all speak, usually saying things that occupied them when they were alive (like 'coffee', 'wi-fi', or 'bluetooth').  For me, this didn't make them so much scary as comical. Yes, Romero did bring out something like this in 'Dawn of the Dead', but it was more just hanging out where they lived (like in the Mall), not moaning some bit of clever social commentary over and over again.

Story: 3

A small town falls prey to a zombie apocalypse

We know this story. It's the standard zombie movie story. There is one twist near the end, but it neither explains everything, nor does it really help bring the original  plot to life.

Visuals: 6

Decapitating the zombies produces a cloud of black dust

Some nice zombie deaths, particularly from a shotgun or a scythe. Nothing particularly flashy, though.

Sound: 7

A lot of country music

I think the 'theme song' country song, which gets more attention than nearly anything else in the movie, proved more annoying than entertaining.

Character: 3

Stock characters, playing their roles at 100% unironic deadpan.

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Enjoyment: 3

I kept waiting for a big 'aha' (or 'haha').

None came. The whole thing is a big setup with very little in the way of punchlines.

David Drucker
American expat living in Vancouver. Prefers cats to dogs, classical music, modern art, modern architecture, science fiction. Public transit fan. Foodie.
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