Friday, September 13, 2019

Looking for a genuinely different zombie film? Try Shinichiro Ueda's ONE CUT OF THE DEAD

Yeah, yeah: You keep hearing about "really different zombie films," particularly zombie comedies -- of which we've already seen plenty, from Shaun of the Dead through Stalled and way beyond (in fact, Jim Jarmusch's try at this subgenre arrives on DVD/VOD this very week). And while it's true that the new film under consideration here -- ONE CUT OF THE DEAD -- is indeed a zombie comedy, it is so different in so many ways from the usual pack that TrustMovies believes it merits the attention of film buffs and maybe even that of zombie-movie lovers.

As you may know if you follow this blog, I am no fan of zombies -- the most boring "monsters" movie-land has so far created. In the old days they looked a little spooky and walked so slowly you could tiptoe away from them with no problem whatsoever. These days they either move slowly (as in the grand-daddy of the modern zombie flick, Night of the Living Dead) or fast, and they, yes, "feast on the flesh of the living." Big deal. Werewolves can change their whole appearance while scaring us silly, and vampires make a great metaphor for forbidden sex. But zombies? Real Johnny-One-Notes, they bore us to distraction.

All of the which makes this 2017 film -- written, directed and edited by Shinichiro Ueda (shown two photos above) a nice, if rather long gestating, surprise. And so I must beg you, should you take a chance on this movie, please last out through the longueurs of the first third, which will seem like a rather standard, if silly zombie film, and through the second section, which more or less explains how that first section will soon come into being, and to hold out until the final third -- which is truly unusual: genuinely funny, sweet and charming as all hell. (My spouse gave up midway through the movie, and so missed what I now know he would, given his taste and humor, have really loved.)

More than this, plot-wise, I ought not say. Spoilers, you know. But the more we learn about the characters in the movie-within-the-movie, and about the actors who play them and about all the folk laboring behind the scenes, One Cut of the Dead just grows better and better.

The whole cast is delightful -- by the finale appearing, oh, so different from what you initially perceived -- and Mr. Ueda is to be congratulated on his moxie for coming up with an idea this bizarre and then bringing it to decent fruition. Given what that idea is, I don't really see how he could have avoided those aforementioned longueurs. And his final section proves so much fun that I think you'll easily forgive him. I sure did.

Released via Shudder, in association with Variance Films, One Cut of the Dead -- running 96 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles -- opens in New York City (at IFC Center) and Los Angeles (at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown) today, Friday, September 13, after which it will play at over 60 one-night screenings across the US and Canada, slated for Tuesday, September 17 (click here to see all currently scheduled screenings), with additional ones to follow and more being added daily. Eventually, I would imagine, you'll be able to see the film on the Shudder streaming service.

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