Film Review – The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

Title – The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

Director – Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive)

Cast – Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Tilda Swinton, RZA, Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez

Plot – In the small American town of Centerville, local cops Cliff Robertson (Murray) and Ronnie Peterson (Driver) must fight help fight off a violent zombie horde when the undead arise and threaten to take over their usually quiet town.

“The world is perfect. Appreciate the details”

Review by Eddie on 20/09/2019

You know what you’re getting with a Jim Jarmusch film, with the popular indie filmmaker carving out a long career filled with dead-pan humour and true to life character studies, with memorable efforts such as Broken Flowers, Dead Man, Ghost Dog and Only Lovers Left Alive establishing a strong C.V for the long standing director, yet while Jarmusch’s delivery is to be expected and cast typically loaded with talent, zombie dramedy The Dead Don’t Die never shuffles into anything worth recommending in what’s a seriously forgettable and lethargic outing for all involved.

It’s hard to know exactly what possessed Jarmusch to enter into the zombie genre, a category of film and entertainment that has reached saturation point many moons ago as while Dead looks to differ itself from other corpse filled offerings by saying its zombie plague is all due to a shift of the earth’s axis and global warming happenings, nothing else in the film feels new and fresh when so much has already played out in similar fashions.

For funny zombie rides we have efforts like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland or for serious efforts we have our Dawn of the Dead’s and 28 Days Later’s and all the minor offerings in between and Dead just does nothing we haven’t seen before, which isn’t always a game ending issue but when it does it in such a manner that plays out here (by the numbers and highly unengaging) there’s issues that arise and can’t be overcome.

Things all start out in slowly plotted and potentially great set-ups with Bill Murray and Adam Driver’s small-town cops Cliff Robertson and Ronnie Peterson on patrol in Centerville as they come across some strange happenings and town locals like Steve Buscemi’s angry farmer Frank Miller, Danny Glover’s kindly Hank, Tom Waits homeless woods dweller Hermit Bob or Tilda Swinton’s samurai sword wielding mortician Zelda, but Dead never seems to get out of first gear and even when the zombies start patrolling the streets and the body count rises, Jarmusch never appears to be interested in making things any more engaging or adrenaline filled as the laughs slow to a trickle and interest levels wane.

There’s no doubt that Dead could’ve been great, the trailer we first glimpsed of the film showed off its potential and there are moments throughout the film where the likes of Driver and Murray show a great chemistry together that’s barely explored and some characters appear at first to be far more intriguing that they’re ever allowed to be thanks to minimal screen time and even more minimal moments that matter.

When all is said and done Dead feels like nothing more than a half-hashed zombie effort that fails to differentiate itself from a crowded collection of similar outings and even with a great cast, a strong core concept and a few moments of darkly humorous occurrences, Jarmusch’s foray into the land of the dead is one many will forget almost instantaneously.

Final Say –

With little heart or soul this dead filled horror/comedy hybrid is a massive miss-step for a usually solid filmmaker with Jarmusch failing to maximise his talented cast in an outing that feels like a big waste of time, instead of fun and engaging trip into the bizarre.

2 zombie rockstar’s out of 5

9 responses to “Film Review – The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

  1. I experienced it differently, but mostly because I figured the unlikeable quality of it was somewhat intentional. Maybe I’m just giving an auteur too much credit, but I think there’s probably some truth to the fact that he was committed to portraying bleakness, even if it came at the expense of entertainment.

    • I think you are right, bleakness is his thing but felt this one was kind of painful to sit through as the jokes and characters were so light on for good content.

  2. I agree with your on-point review. Especially after the poetic brilliance of ‘Paterson’, Jarmusch threw away an excellent cast and set of characters by deliberately under-mining the horror/zombie genre film at the end. I liked the environmentally astute themes, but it fell into self-reflexive “clever” screenwriting too much.

    • 100% right Paul!

      I got the feeling this film and its cast/crew thought they were making something amazing and it ended up being rather dull to watch as an outsider.

  3. Pingback: The Dead Don’t Die: Movie Review·

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