The Dead Don’t Die
2019, Focus Features
A zombie comedy starring Bill Murray and Kylo Ren? I was IN as soon as I saw the trailer online. I intended to see it in the theater, but didn’t get around to it. I finally was able to check the movie out on Redbox.
First off, the cast is pretty interesting and diverse. Bill Murray and Adam Driver co-star with a number of interesting casting choices for supporting characters. Steve Buscemi is especially great as a racist local farmer (complete with “Make America Great Again” hat). He wasn’t in the movie enough, in my opinion!
The humor is very laid back, but clever. I guess it’s pretty close to what you could call slacker humor. The entire world is falling apart and the dead are rising (thanks to fracking at the poles throwing the planet off its axis) and no one seems particularly panicked about it. It’s more of a “oh… well, this sucks” vibe. Even in the face of a few gory scenes and fighting for their lives against zombies, the lead characters seem to be puzzled and slightly concerned, at most.
Also of note is the fact that the lead characters KNOW they are in a movie. In one scene, Adam Driver’s character tells Bill Murray’s character that he knows things are going to end poorly for them. Murray’s character asks how he knows that and Driver’s replies, “because I read the script”.
Another funny bit is the continuous use/promotion of Sturgill Simpson’s “The Dead Don’t Die” song. It’s played on the radio at the beginning of the movie and Murray’s character asks what it is and Driver’s character replies, “it’s the theme song”. And it’s actually a pretty catchy song.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It isn’t laugh out loud funny, but it’s clever and humorous. If in the future the movie ever turns up on any free streaming network I’m subscribed to, I’d probably watch it again.
The only thing that really fell flat with me was Tilda Swinton’s character arc. A sword-slinging Irish mortician that walks through a horde of zombies just to get taken away by an alien spaceship? It seemed like they were setting her up as some sort of mysterious bad-ass to help turn the tide against the zombies, but then… she didn’t. She left and joined the aliens instead just as the entire town was being overrun. I don’t get it. Was she an alien herself? Did she know the zombie apocalypse was coming? I wasn’t clear on any of that.
Body at Brighton Rock
2019, Magnet Releasing
Okay, this isn’t about zombies or a demon clown preying upon children, but it’s a nature horror/survival flick so I’m reviewing it for the month of October. Like shark movies, I’m drawn to movies that feature the threat of a killer bear. There’s just something about both scenarios where you are isolated, helpless, vulnerable and you have to pull yourself together to make it through. The basic premise could happen in real life! I’ve seen a number of “alone in the forest against a bear” movies over the last few years (so many that I think it needs to become it’s own sub-genre) and while Body at Brighton Rock isn’t the best of those, it’s entertaining and interesting enough.
The plot revolves around a poorly adept forest park guide that becomes lost, stumbles across a dead body, and has to stay overnight in the forest to the preserve the scene before help can arrive in the morning. Also lurking deep in the forest is a bear (there’s a cave nearby her location) and a suspicious park visitor.
A solid effort with a good bit of mystery, intrigue and tension.