Review: The Dead Don’t Die

In my absence, I have actually gotten to the theatre just the one time…having left about 20 minutes ago. The end of the school year was super demanding and I’ve been too busy to watch anything except a few repeat viewings of The Office (thank you Netflix) before falling asleep, so I’m excited to get back here and write. But given the wide selection of summer blockbusters available for viewing and reviewing (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Rocketman, Late Night, Dark Phoenix, Men In Black International) I chose to go see The Dead Don’t Die. This movie is like the slow, slow death of Bill Murray’s character in Zombieland, except not as funny. The Dead Don’t Die focuses on a small town police force and their attempts to… something about the zombie apocalypse happening around them. They seem to accept what is happening and understand why it is happening, but continue on living their calm and collected lives as if it has no real affect on their existence.
“Welcome to Centerville: A real nice place.” That is unless you live there or are watching the people who live there…because like the slow-moving zombies seen on screen, this movie is also quite avoidable. Director Jim Jarmusch is new to me, but a pretty well-known indie film guy with big critical successes like Stranger Than Paradise and 2016’s Paterson (also starring Adam Driver). I don’t aim to critique his directing style after only one film, but it seems as though many critics also agree in giving this movie a hard pass. What is nice to see though is when even in a non-recommended movie there are good things worth mentioning. In this movie, nearly each of the cast members give at least one solid comedic line. It’s definitely very, very dry and dark comedy, but it’s there. The A-list cast also includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi, and Chloë Sevigny. The zombies look pretty good, and I liked the approach that Jarmusch had with them specifically. Another standout effort was made in the very few scenes that focused on a group of juvenile delinquents, as they seem to represent our hope in the youth.
There are definite themes in the movie as it relates to our world and culture, but ultimately those themes aren’t worth exploring with a $10 movie ticket. I enjoyed how overtly meta the movie was and those were most of the movie’s best scenes and elements, and I wish that it had done just a little bit more. Like if it had leaned into the fact that one of the characters is aware they’re in a movie and that it ends badly, but it just needed something because as a whole it fell very short for me. I’m hoping to swing the pendulum back the other direction later tonight with one of the other aforementioned films, so come back tomorrow to find out which one that was! Cheers!

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