The Dead Don’t Die (2019) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Cast:
Bill Murray as Chief Cliff Robertson
Adam Driver as Officer Ronald “Ronnie” Peterson
Tilda Swinton as Zelda Winston
Chloë Sevigny as Officer Minerva “Mindy” Morrison
Steve Buscemi as Farmer Miller
Danny Glover as Hank Thompson
Caleb Landry Jones as Bobby Wiggins
Rosie Perez as Posie Juarez
Iggy Pop as Coffee Zombie
Sara Driver as Coffee Zombie
RZA as Dean
Carol Kane as Mallory O’Brien
Selena Gomez as Zoe
Tom Waits as Hermit Bob
Director: Jim Jarmusch

In the sleepy small town of Centerville, something is not quite right. The moon hangs large and low in the sky, the hours of daylight are becoming unpredictable, and animals are beginning to exhibit unusual behaviors. News reports are scary, and scientists are concerned, but no one foresees the strangest and most dangerous repercussion that will soon start plaguing Centerville: the dead rise from their graves and feast on the living, and the citizens must battle to survive.

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The Dead Don’t Die is a movie I heard a little bit about for a month or so. I knew that it was a zombie movie that was anticipated but people felt rather mixed on when it released. It’s also got a great cast, with the likes of Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and more involved. It’s also the first movie that I’ve seen from director Jim Jarmusch, whose other films included Paterson and Only Lovers Left Alive (movies I’ve heard about but never got around to). Having only seen The Dead Don’t Die, I’m just going to assume that this is his worst movie.

All I knew going into this movie is that this was a zombie comedy, I was going in completely blind otherwise and so had no other expectations. This movie certainly has some weird humour throughout. I really do like deadpan humour, but I never knew it was possible for a movie to be too deadpan, to the point where the humour just completely disappears from them movie. I assume it’s somewhat trying to be comedic however, because if you look at the movie from a serious perspective, it’s even worse. So outside of some certain moments, it was neither serious nor funny, so I’m not exactly sure how to take most of the movie. The horror doesn’t even exist here, the few times that have some attempt at it are very weak. So you’d think that maybe it’s meant to be working on a deeper level with the story. Well there is some social commentary that the movie throws in throughout about materialism and the like, and it is incredibly ham fisted and blatant, none of that works either. So really the movie doesn’t work in any regard, not as a comedy, not as a horror, and it’s not a deep movie with important things to say about anything.

Despite the great cast, they can only do so much. Adam Driver, Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton come across the best here, with Driver and Murray as a pair of cops, and Swinton as an undertaker who also happens to be a samurai (or something). Driver actually does manages to elevate some of the scenes he’s in, with so many of his deadpan delivered lines being amongst the only funny parts of the movie. The rest of the cast don’t really do much, with Steve Buscemi, Austin Butler, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez and Tom Waits being okay in their parts but but weren’t particularly memorable.

As I said up above, the movie barely has any horror, honestly Shaun of the Dead is much scarier. If you’re hoping to enjoy it for the gore at least, there’s maybe a few scenes like that but on the whole there isn’t much here. An observation is that for whatever reason, whenever part of a zombie is chopped off or shot, soot or dust comes out instead of blood, I’m not sure whether it’s an artistic decision or because of budgetary reasons but it’s like that in the movie.

By the end of The Dead Don’t Die, I wasn’t exactly sure what the point of all of it was. The jokes don’t land, the scares don’t work, the movie doesn’t entertain, and even if you just go by the message/social commentary, it’s so forced and poorly handled that it deflates the movie even further. I didn’t hate it, but it really gets worse the more I think about it, as it really doesn’t work well in any regard. Not even the cast can fully save it (though Adam Driver has some good moments). I guess if you’re really excited for the movie I guess you could give it a go. It’s harmless but rather forgettable and a bit of a timewaster, so if you’re sceptical about the movie, I’d say it’s not worth it.

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