Tim reviews The Dead Don't Die
Screening details: Tuesday, June 18, 7:00 PM, Non-3D, Non-IMAX. Seen with movie-buddy Dan. No popcorn was consumed for this movie.
I went into the movie with no expectations and with minimal research. I had seen the trailer once, so I knew it was a zombie movie with a lot of big names in it.
Pre-movie grade: N/A
Post-movie grade: B
Category: Possible comfort movie.
I’ll try to keep this spoiler-free since it’s a new release.
The movie is full of nods to other movies, directors, and tropes. I’m willing to admit there are probably a lot of references I missed and probably some I applied to the movie that may not have been intentional. They were amusing but they had a tendency of taking me out of the movie. There were also several moments in the movie when the actors break the fourth wall. The first one was a bit subtle and out of nowhere so it felt like it could have been actual dialog and not a break. The one near the end of the movie is very obvious which I found ruined the moment and breaks the momentum of the scene.
After a steady diet of fast-paced, adrenaline-packed movies lately, The Dead Don’t Die is a welcome movie. No one will ever accuse it of being fast-paced or full of rapid fire dialog or action. I found it amusing and interesting to have the movie and action move at such a slothy pace. You can almost feel the joy of the actors basking in delivering their lines in that manner.
Having spent a lot of time in West Virginia (where The Dead Don’t Die is located), I found the small town storylines and personalities entertaining and pretty spot on. As with most zombie movies, members of the audience often scratch their heads at the decisions and actions of some of the characters. The same can be said for characters in this movie. In hindsight though, I can see how the characters would react how they did in the zombie situations. This may be a case of me over-analyzing the movie, but I read the lack of leadership, take-charge characters as a statement on today’s society tendency to not react to things.
There are a lot of social commentaries buried, and in many cases not even buried, in this movie which leads to its feeling of the nuclear-anxiety movies of the 50s - one of the many nods to films past and near past.
After the movie, my movie co-watcher Dan and I looked up Jim Jarmusch, the writer and director of The Dead Don’t Die. If you listen to the podcast, you know I’m not a follower of directors. After looking up Jarmusch online, I recognized many of his past movies and have seen several of them. I like his style and the unique stories he tells. That feeling continues after watching The Dead Don’t Die.
I give The Dead Don’t Die a post-movie grade of B (I left the theater less than two hours before writing the review so my grade may change as I continue to process the movie watching experience.) It was entertaining and some interesting techniques in its making. However, the slow-action was a bit slow at times as my blinks got a bit long a few times. Dan said he had some moments of long blinks too. The over abundance of references to other movies and throwbacks along with the moment-breaking fourth wall breaking brought the movie’s grade down for me.
After a summer of intense and actiony movies, The Dead Don’t Die is a great draft of fresh air to see in the theaters. I think it benefits from seeing on the big screen in a theater with others. Hearing others laugh and react the movie, in this case, increased my enjoyment of the movie. Hearing Rocketman’s soundtrack seeping through the adjoining theater wall - not as much. I can’t fault the movie or the director for that.
Go see The Dead Don't Die in a theater and enjoy an entertaining and full movie watching experience. Have you seen the movie and have thoughts to share? Was it a popcorn grinder for you?