Film Review: One Cut Of The Dead

one cut of the dead index
Ah, cheap zombie comedies, don’t you love them more than life itself? Well, not quite, but they are a guilty pleasure, and if done really well a non-guilty pleasure too. This Japanese effort which only came out at the cinema in the UK on Friday definitely falls in to the latter category as it’s one of the best of the genre, mainly because everything is not as it seems at all.

It’s based around the idea that a filmmaker is shooting a cheap zombie flick in a disused World War II facility when the small cast and crew are attacked by real life zombies, and the director insists on carrying on shooting as he’s badly in debt and needs to make something that will make him money. It probably won’t come as a surprise that it turns out he knew the facility was plagued by the undead all along, and soon he’s gleefully shoving people in to harms way and responsible for a lot of deaths. Like most of the best horror films it moves at an impressive pace and after a short bit of scene setting it only takes ten minutes before the first zombie bites off a limb.

The only downside is that the cast and crew is pretty small and it becomes increasingly obvious that it won’t take that long before everyone’s killed off. And that is indeed the case, and just thirty minutes in it looks like it’s all over with the lead character walking away triumphantly having killed everyone, and I was left wondering if I’d paid far too much money to watch a short film at the cinema. But then the rug is pulled out from under the audience’s feet and the film becomes something else entirely.

As much fun as the blood and gore is it’s the second section which deconstructs the film that provides most of the laughs, it’s hard to review without giving away the surprise twist but it’s one that I’m certain will delight all who watch it. The film does sag slightly in the middle but once we get to the final thirty minutes it flows in an enormously enjoyable manner and the laughs come fast and thick. I’ve seen over seven hundred and eighty thousand zombie flicks (or at least over 100, anyhow) and this rates as one of the best of them. It’s not quite up there with Shaun Of The Dead but then it doesn’t try to be and does some pretty different with the genre, and for once it’s something that hasn’t been done before.

Director Shin’ichirô Ueda really has created something unique here, it’s a concept that has been used elsewhere but never in a horror movie before. All of the cast impress throughout, and even more so when you discover what’s actually happening. It’s shot with a frenetic pace and though as mentioned it does have a slight pacing issue in the middle such scenes are important to the final piece and make it all the more effective. Currently it’s only playing at a few cinemas in the country but it’s worth the trip wherever you’re based, though if you’re too broke to do so I’d recommend pre-ordering the dvd / blu-ray this very instant, if you love the genre then it’s a film which won’t disappoint in the slightest.

Alex Finch.

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