Hubby and I are pretty much on the same page about most things. We tend to enjoy the same movies, television shows, music, etc, but the one area where we are not on the same page is horror movies. Hubby is a big horror movie fan, particularly zombie movies. I find horror movies boring. They just don’t interest me. I think it’s mostly because dialogue is what captures my attention, not visuals, and horror movies tend to be heavier on the visual. I have the same issue with action movies. So while hubby is usually forced to cram all his horror movie watching when I’m out of town, we will always be able to share zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead. It has jokes for me and plenty of classic zombie references for him.
While the central action of this film is a fight for survival in the wake of the zombocalyse, it’s really about growing up. Shaun finds himself trapped between his best friend, who represents his past and his girlfriend, who could be his future. Everyone in his life is urging him to ditch his immature best friend, Ed, so he can grow-up and enjoy the next stage of his life which will include all those grown-up things like career and marriage, but Shaun still cares for Ed. They share a lot of good memories and Ed can always make Shaun laugh. This is a very relatable conundrum for those in their mid to late 20s. I have friends from college that haven’t fully stepped into adulthood and it’s always awkward when they mingle with the friends I’ve made since graduating. Luckily, by the end of the film, Shaun learns that if he doesn’t reprioritize, he’s going to lose out on a lot of great stuff, and finds a way to grow-up, without kicking Ed out of his life. The aftermath of the zombocalypse does make this change a little easier, but that’s besides the point.
What makes this movie so funny is how it shows what it would be like for real people to be faced with this extreme situation. At first Shaun is completely oblivious to the zombies, showing Shaun is the zombie as he bumbles through life. Slowly, Shaun and Ed piece together what has happened and concoct a plan of what to do about it. I also like that they remain fairly out of their element, never truly rising to the occasion. It also has some real serious moments. Shaun finds himself having to kill loved ones who have been infected and his struggle is very touching and honest.
I had a playwriting professor who adored callbacks, when something seemingly insignificant from earlier in the film, leads to something much bigger later on. Shaun of the Dead is full of callbacks. Almost everything said in the first act comes back throughout the film. An example is when Shaun runs into friend Yvonne (played by Simon Pegg’s Spaced co-star Jessica Stevenson) and when finding out he’s still with Liz, Yvonne says it’s good to know somebody survived. When they run into each other at the peak of the zombocalypse, she again says it’s good to know somebody survived. The same sentence, with a completely different meaning. It’s an excellently crafted script full of laughs, humanity, and zombies.