One Cut of the Dead is a heart-on-its-blood-soaked-sleeve zombie comedy that hits in all the warm places. A rare film that surprises you, puts a smile on you, and then won’t leave you.
This is the film that should kick off your scary movie viewing season. Not because of the zombies, or the gore, or the harrowing comment on society - you can go elsewhere for those things. This zombie comedy is here for your heart, and your heart alone. It will equally entertain horror fans, and comedy fans, and it’s an absolute must for film fans. It’s not a redefining of the zombie genre, it’s an homage to the creators and DIY filmmakers of any genre. There isn’t going to be a million style rip offs of One Cut of the Dead; there’s no room for a sequel chain of One Cut films.
Shin'ichirô Ueda’s directorial debut is littered in homemade style while simultaneously delivering a voice all his own. The narrative is simple: a film crew encounters real zombies while making a zombie film. Not only is the film so much more than that, it’s true nature isn’t fully realized until the final frame and knowing anything more before seeing it only weakens its payoff. And I, folks, am no payoff ruiner.
What I can say is that its interpolation of honesty as it weaves its narrative, slowly and with a contained zaniness, is remarkable. This isn’t a movie that ever tries to really scare you, and its danger is never pulse pounding, and yet it’s all the more real for it. Its opening 37 minute single take is a feat of framing and blocking; what comes after is the mark of filmmaker with a thumping future.
Anyone who has ever been or worked on a film set will appreciate some of its Mamet-esque blink and it’s gone industry humor. Actors Yuzuki Akiyama and Takayuki Hamatsu deliver performances that are at times tender and at times sociopathic. The playful, amateur cinematography is actually quite refined, and delivers a lensing that becomes a character, as well.The best films are ones where it almost seems deftly clear that all the films creative and technical departments were in sync from the story’s inception.
One Cut of the Dead premiered on Shudder this past week, it’s a 5/5 film for me, and it should immediately jump to the top of your must watch list.
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