The Dead Don't Die ★★★★

Jim Jarmusch returns to the genre to try his hand at another classic Horror entity, having approached vampires in 2013's Only Lovers Left Alive; a film that I found to be incredibly humorous, in dry, subtle ways. Well, his take on zombies is much more comedy focused than that film, but The Dead Don't Die is as dry as a desert about it. The deadpan mundanity in the performances is maybe not to everyone's tastes, but I found it to be gut bustingly hilarious. The cast is stacked with notable names, all of whom deal with the oddity of the script quite well. I'd typically go about naming names, pointing out who was great where, but I kind of loved everyone so that gets a little tricky. If I had to single anyone out, it would be Adam Driver, who steered most of the really killer jokes with his delivery, and Tilda Swinton, who is just so perfectly cast in the weirdest, funniest, coolest amalgam of a character I can think of. This isn't to sell anyone else short though, they're seriously all a delight.

Much of what I loved about the craftsmanship of Only Lovers Left Alive returns here. Clear, careful camera work, moody lighting, and fantastic implementation of music as a character in the film (the theme song itself, provided by Sturgill Simpson, is a recurring plot point, and I love it). While clearly a comedy, there is no lack of eerie atmosphere in the misty, moonlight fields of a small country town, or the horror of countless ravenous undead glimpsed through a foggy car windshield, bathed in red and blue lights. The makeup effects on the zombies look fantastic, and I adored the blood dust effect used with their dismemberment. There are some bigger digital effects that crop up, and they aren't exactly the best thing ever, but their absurdity and comedic value override any particular need to look amazing.

I've been a bit bewildered to find out that this movie isn't being all that well received; everyone I saw it with loved it, and the audience around us was energetic and entertained. The meta elements of the film where rather unexpected, but there are so many allusions to them that it wasn't difficult to embrace, and in fact it added a lot to both the plot of the film itself, and its greater message. There is a distinct take on typical zombie symbolism that gets hammered in the final moment; another thing I can see detracting for some people, but it distinctly felt to me that it itself was a parody of typical zombie films, and that the unresolved and abrupt nature of the plot threads were more the point. If you were looking for "satisfying" conclusions to all the little stories, you were deluding yourself. This is going to end badly. In that regard, kudos to Jarmusch for crafting a film that is both thoroughly humorous, and an utterly bleak statement about our likely future.

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