The Dead Don’t Die raises the dead and satirical zombie horror fun.
The Dead Don’t Die is a satirical horror comedy with some social commentary. The dry wit is not for everyone, but the film doesn’t try to please a big audience. It’s a satire about the All American Way in a sleepy middle sized town and the destruction of the earth caused by greed, materialism and consumerism which are considered as the new religion.
These serious themes are handled with a playful and fun tone, that sometimes can feel as dull and as sleepy as the town itself. Some will find this movie a boring drag, but ironically that’s meant to be the tone of the film, and it is also a big part of the themes itself. This often underwhelming feeling that radiates from the zombies is part of the humor and for those who are really into that kind of silly humor, it’s relentlessly funny. Therefore the film has an acquired taste.
In the small town of Centerville strange things start to happen after polar fracking. Officers Cliff Robertson, Ronnie Peterson and Mindy Morrison suddenly have to deal with real life zombies. We follow them and some other townspeople, like the owner of a gas station Bobby Wiggins, shop owner Frank Thompson and newly arrived and very strange undertaker Zelda Winston, while the town soon is overwhelmed with flesh eating zombies.
Why you should watch it
This film has an acquired taste and not everyone will like it. It’s slow, very slow, but when you’re in the mood, this kind of humor will bring some laughs. The way the characters behave is all very absurd, and unusual. Unusual for a film that is. If this were to be a real life situation, their reactions are maybe not far from the truth. The humor is constantly present, in many different ways.
The satirical social commentary is reflected by the zombies who after death just go on doing what they always did and liked in life, like drinking chardonnay or coffee, looking for their cell phone, eating, all things consumable. It also reflects on the police officers who don’t have any clue what to do and just drive around a little after they first locked themselves in at the police station. But eventually they overcome their fears and try to save their town, at least what is left of it.
Consumerism is a beloved theme in zombie movies, because that’s all they do and left with, eat. The all-star cast is a delight to see as either zombies, victims, absurd characters or as a really weird alien-like being, what Tilda Swinton actually is (she really is an alien like we all thought).
The humor in a meta-perspective twist adds to the witty fun as does the song ‘The dead don’t die’ by Sturgill Simpson that pops on at the most ‘dull’ and awkward moments.
But in the end Jim Jarmusch goes all out with his meta-perspective view and Cliff/Bill Murray and Ronnie/Adam Driver are both themselves as well as their characters and reality blends with the script, in an out of the blue but fun way. Maybe this is all too much, but if you like this kind of over the top campy absurdism, you will enjoy this one.
My favorite part
I don’t particularly have a favorite scene, but every scene Tilda is in, is a delight to watch. She is a master at playing the most peculiar roles, and portrays them with charme or with humor or in a very earnest way, but now she combines them all in the shape of a strange person called Zelda Winston.
Her preparations of the dead are insanely funny, but it gets even weirder and funnier when the dead with their full make-up face on, start to rise. Her sword skills are amazingly scary and her absolute calm attitude makes it even more funny. Ironically she and the hermit seem to be the only ones to survive this zombie invasion, both people who live outside the community. It’s a fun little sneer.
Fun factor: ★★★★☆
Cast and crew
The Dead Don’t Die is directed and written by Jim Jarmusch. It stars Bill Murray (Cliff Robertson), Adam Driver (Ronnie Peterson), Chloë Sevigny (Mindy Morrison), Tilda Swinton (Zelda Winston), Tom Waits (Hermit Bob), Steve Buscemi (Frank Miller), Danny Glover (Hank Thompson), Caleb Landry Jones (Bobby Wiggins), RZA, Selena Gomez and Iggy Pop.
Duration: 104 minutes. Music: Sqürl. Cinematography: Frederick Elmes. Edited by: Affonso Gonçalves. Production companies: Animal Kingdom, Film i Väst. Distributed by: Focus Features.