Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead – 2004 | 99mins | Horror, Comedy | Colour
Directed by Edgar Wright, from an original screenplay by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead takes its inspiration from the Channel Four sitcom Spaced. An early episode featured Pegg’s character trapped in the game ‘Resident Evil 2’ fighting off zombies. Pegg and Wright hatched a plan to make a full-length zombie feature film and before long they began discussing ideas for what would become Shaun of the Dead. Juxtaposing zombie horror with side-splitting romantic comedy, Shaun of the Dead will amuse casual viewers whilst genre fans can take pleasure in the knowing homage to George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead – and even Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later.
Shaun (Simon Pegg) is in a rut. He’s 29, an assistant manager in an electrical store and coasting through life, never threatening to fulfil his potential. He lives with Ed (Nick Frost) his best friend from junior school and Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), his lesser friend from college. Pete and Ed don’t get on, perhaps because Ed is a somewhat lazy B-class drug dealer who doesn’t clear up after himself and Pete is a slightly irritating stuck up business man, devoid of any vestige of the amiability that got him and Shaun together in the first place. Then there’s Liz (Kate Ashfield), Shaun’s girlfriend, also 29. An attractive, fun loving, intelligent woman who is understandably starting to think about the future, something Shaun tries resolutely to ignore. She is getting increasingly uneasy about the amount of time Shaun spends with Ed. Any intimacy they manage to achieve socially is usually at The Winchester a local pub, with Ed present. And having grown tired of the triangle, Liz has taken to bringing out her two friends David (Dylan Moran) and Di (Lucy Davis), the former a fastidious know-it-all, the latter a dizzy wannabe actress. Liz is frustrated and Shaun has his head in the sand. Shaun’s love life is not a happy one.
Lastly there’s Shaun’s Mum, Barbara (Penelope Wilton). She is lovely, a caring, doting every mother, whom Shaun adores. Unfortunately, twelve years ago, Barbara married Philip (Bill Nighy), a pompous, bossy, bully of a man who became Shaun’s stepfather and drove an awkward wedge between mum and boy. Shaun’s family life is. We join Shaun on a Friday night in the pub with Liz and Ed and David and Di, trying to have a relationship conversation with his patient girlfriend. The resolution of this is an affirmation that Shaun will change for the better and to prove it, he will take Liz to a renowned fish restaurant the next night and give her the third anniversary meal they never had. All he has to do is book it.
But Saturday is a strange day. Things seem distinctly odd. Suicides on the Underground hold up the tube trains. People are fainting in the street, TV seems to show constant news footage of some unexplained calamity and did that tramp just try to eat a pigeon? After a long confusing day, Shaun gets home only to realise he has forgotten to book the restaurant and his alternative suggestion of going to The Winchester is the final straw for Liz, who decides to finish her relationship with Shaun, despite his passionate protests.
Saturday ends up in the pub, in the dark, drunk and full of remorse. After an argument with Pete and the day’s events clouding his mind, Shaun decides to change. Tomorrow, he will get his life together. He will square things with his estranged girlfriend. He will visit his Mum. Everything will be fine. Unfortunately ‘the dead’, have risen in London. Yesterday’s strangeness has transformed overnight into a full on Zombie apocalypse. Despite the obvious initial shock, Shaun is intent, Zombies or no Zombies, on fulfilling the promises he made to himself and sets out to rescue his girlfriend and his Mum and take them to the safest place he can think of, The Winchester.
Of course things don’t go entirely to plan as Shaun, and of course Ed, are joined by David, Dianne and Philip as well as Barbara and Liz, and the journey to the pub is far from uneventful. Once in the pub, tempers become frayed and a long running feud between David and Shaun comes to the boil. As the group fight for their lives with pool queues, bar stools and an antique rifle, they are slowly whittled down by the encroaching hordes of the undead.
Edgar Wright: Director
Karen Wakefield: Art Direction
David M Dunlap: Cinematography
Chris Dickens: Editing
Dan Mudford: Original Music
Pete Woodhead: Original Music
Nira Park: Producer
Marcus Rowland: Production Design
Edgar Wright: Script
Simon Pegg: Script
Giancarlo Dellapina: Sound Department
Simon Hayes: Sound Department
Julian Slater: Sound Department
Simon Pegg: Shaun
Nick Frost: Ed
Kate Ashfield: Liz
Dylan Moran: David
Lucy Davis: Dianne
Bill Nighy: Philip
Peter Serafinowic: Pete
Penelope Wilton: Barbara