One of the best surprises in a long time.
Synopsis: Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies. (IMDB)
Starring: Takayuki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama, and Harumi Shuhama
Writer: Shin’ichirô Ueda
Director: Shin’ichirô Ueda
Running Time: 96mins
A pattern that is noticeable in film is when a notable voice in film makes a movie from about filmmaking. From 8½, to Hail! Caesar, some of the biggest names in film always want to make something that shows their love of film. What better way to announce yourself as a new and wonderful voice in world cinema, then making your own tribute to filmmaking and genre flicks. Ueda does this by crafting a memorable work of meta film with One Cut of the Dead, one of the most fun horror comedies of all time. It’s a pitch-perfectly acted, self-aware work of genre trash, that soon makes a 100% turn into filmmaking-based cinema. The layers of the fourth wall slowly crumble, with the specifics explained later.
The basic premise of One Cut of the Dead involves an abandoned WWII-era water filtration plant, a cast and crew of a low budget horror film, and real zombies! Sure, this soon gets crushed and blended through a million different things, but the basic premise part of the film is pretty enthralling, if not a little (intentionally, although that isn’t immediate) immaturely made. The plot sounds familiar, but there’s a real sense of grain and texture brought to it’s cinematography, certain performances are good, especially Takayuki Hamatsu’s Director Higurashi screaming “action” at random points throughout) in one take. Still though, it’s made like a messy, unorganized and immature short, with a bit too much ambition on it’s side.
When we meet the cast and crew, and who they actually are, opposed to the characters we saw them play earlier. This is where the real comedy of the film ensues. So much humor and comedy here is based on the small errors we saw earlier in that first take, especially the behind the scenes capturing of those errors. Everything that could go wrong almost does, and each scene is maximized for the highest comedic output. We learn that the messiness of that original shot is dictated by the behind the scenes madness. Ultimately, the entire film would not have worked without that opening mediocre shot, which sets up everything else. In the end, it takes a breeding ground of cliches and takes full advantage of them, until it flips and transcends them perfectly.
With One Cut of the Dead, you will surely have a grin on your face as the final shots add yet another heartwarming layer to the proceedings. Every character, every line, every piece fits perfectly creating one of the best pieces of genre cinema of 2018. It is something special in that it is both giddy and childlike , just like its lead character. A perfect genre cinema tribute, this could become a midnight cult film in the near future, but why reduce it to that? It’s one of the most spectacular pieces of horror comedy that’s come out ever, and it deserves a place alongside Sean of the Dead, and Zombieland. Even better, it cements that we’ve got a new classic here.
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