SHAUN OF THE DEAD
Director Edgar Wright and star Simon Pegg, who wrote the script together, turn out an amusing variant on Romeros Dead films, one where they filter Romero through a comic British kitchen sink realism. Shaun of the Dead could almost be a collision between a Romero zombie film and Men Behaving Badly (1992-8). Here the hero of the show is not out to save other survivors but to rescue his somewhat bewildered mum and his ex-girlfriend (who insists that the rescue attempt is just a ploy to get back with her); and rather than holing up in a shopping mall mini-Utopia, the hero and his best mates plan is to hide out in the local pub and have a few drinks until it all blows over. Edgar Wright says that rather than any Night or Dawn of the Dead they conceived the film as a sort of Sunday morning after a heavy nights drinking zombie film. Particularly amusing and very cleverly directed is one sequence where Simon Pegg gets up after a nights drinking and stumbles down to the corner dairy to get a can of Coke while hung over, somehow managing not to notice that everywhere around him are dead bodies and stumbling zombies.
While Shaun of the Dead was billed as a zombie romance in England, what it plays as if anything is a combination of a zombie film and an early 30s lifestyle crisis film. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg spend a surprising amount of time during the early sections of the film charting out Shauns life his problems with his slob of a live-in best friend, his girlfriend who is tired of going to the pub all the time and not being paid enough attention, his dreary nowhere McJob. Shaun of the Dead is, if you like, about the heroic triumphs of an ordinary bloke. Simon Pegg does a very likeable job of playing the part.
The entire exercise is made with a good deal of good-natured humour. The entire cast play naturalistically and the film comes without the resort to one-liners or obvious gags that any American equivalent might. During the last third, the film mounts to a good gut-crunching and splattery climax with the cast holed up in the pub and surrounded by zombies, which shows that Edgar Wright is equally adept with the horror element as he is with the humour. There is an amusing montage as the film goes out showing life returned to normal, with the zombies being used as gameshow contestants, service industry slaves and wives appearing on talkshows not wanting to be separated from undead husbands.
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg next went onto make Hot Fuzz (2007), a witty satire of tv cop shows. Edgar Wright next directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), a strange mix of teenage romance and superheroics, the alien body snatchers comedy The Worlds End (2013) and Baby Driver (2017). Wright also wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielbergs The Adventures of Tintin (2011), and produced the British alien invasion film Attack the Block (2011) and Ben Wheatleys black comedy Sightseers (2012). He was also the original listed director for the Marvel Comics adaptation Ant-Man (2015) but departed over creaive differences and retains co-screenplay credit on the finished film. Simon Pegg and co-star Nick Frost subsequently went on to co-write and star in Paul (2011), a comedy wherein two fanboys encounter an alien, while Pegg also wrote and Star Trek: Beyond (2016).