For a few weeks the horror comedy The Dead Don’t Die has been running in theaters. I was surprised the movie received mixed review. I expected that a stellar ensemble cast including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton and Chloe Sevigny would succeed in creating a classic. Director Jim Jarmusch is an experienced director. Sadly, certain aspects of The Dead Don’t Die feel like a movie made by an amateur. Just like the many reviews I have a mixed opinion about it. I give it a passing grade as it humoristic most of the time.
The people of Centerville
In The Dead Don’t Die actors Bill Murray and Adam Driver play Chief Cliff Robertson and Officer Ronnie Peterson. they patrol the small town of Centerville somewhere in eastern rural America. Quickly things turn weird when the evening starts far later than normal. The next day a bloodbath is discovered at the local diner and Ronnie starts to suspect zombies. However, he had a hard time convincing Cliff and Officer Mindy Morrison (played by Chloe Sevigny).
And so The Dead Don’t Die sets itself up for a Zombie hack-fest, but it remains a little light on the latter. The police officers get help from Zelda Winston, the new and rather weird undertaker of the town. Meanwhile the movie is interspersed with shots from other townspeople as they attempt to cope with the zombie horde.
The movie ends on a sad note. Most of the town is killed. Mindy lets herself be devoured after seeing her undead grandmother. Zelda instead gets picked up by aliens, another random event in a movie full of them. Cliff and Ronnie decide one last charge and between manage to kill plentiful zombies in the town graveyard before the sight of an undead Mindy causes their charge to falter and they to are devoured.
Opinion of The Dead Don’t Die
The Dead Don’t Die is difficult for me to review. While I enjoyed it I see there is plenty wrong with it – more on that below. The humor is good, but it is not laugh out loud comedy, for that the pacing is just too slow. The movie relies on a mixture of deadpan facial stares and sardonic gallows humor. It is fun to see the three police officers interact with the weird townspeople, but this is not supposed to be Twin Peaks, but a zombie horror film.
There is however plenty wrong with director Jim Jarmusch movie The Dead Don’t Die. For a start it is very slow. Scenes play out in full with lots of dialogue, walking to and from as well just driving around. In some respects the early part of the movie feels like a Quentin Tarantino movie. As the viewer you diligently watch every scene with the hopes it will unfold to something grander – but it doesn’t really.
The movie also takes nearly 70 minutes for the full zombie horde invasion to get into full swing. Other zombie horror movies try to get into the decapitation action as quickly as possible. Watching Cliff, Ronnie and Zelda take on the zombies sadly also becomes little more than just amusing.
The Dead Don’t Die can also be confusing. We are led to believe that Zelda was an alien and that the rise of the undead was caused by a shift in the earth’s rotation. Now you would expect a thin plot, but what little there is feels underwhelming and confusing. The movie hints at deeper meaning behind scenes. Sadly they are lost to me as the viewer.
The Dead Don’t die could have been a great summer zombie-slasher. Instead it feels like director Jim Jarmusch obstinately headed into his own direction. The movie thus feels neither creepy nor as much fun as could have been. But hey, at least we got a classic poster.