By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
It’s not every day that you see an indie horror with an interesting conceit and a 5-figure budget (25k) catch a nerve and profit well into the 6-figures (30m, despite barely being released outside of its home country).
Not every day.
One Cut of the Dead opens mid-scene in a low-budget zombie thriller… but wait, we’re actually witnessing the shooting of a low-budget zombie thriller… but wait, real zombies show up and start decimating the cast… but wait, that’s just the first 37 minutes…
*Mild Spoilers Below*
Yes, there’s more to this film than first, or second, or third appears. I’ll keep the most fun surprises under wraps, but it’s really quite hard to talk about the film without at least suggesting some avenues it takes. Don’t worry- the point of the film is far from the twists.
Rookie writer/director Shinichiro Ueda heaps meta upon meta in the most delightful way in this film, which really doesn’t even begin until it’s already ended- at that 37 minute mark that all review materials pointedly reassure us critics didn’t actually mark the end of the entire film.
Ueda structures the film in such a way that it loops back on itself to explain the odd parts of the opening zombie film within a film and reexamines it from the perspective of characters we’ve gotten to know in post – it’s a brilliant conceit that almost makes you want to fire the movie back up again immediately upon completing it- just to see how it changes things for you the second time through. Overall, it’s both ambitious and refreshingly… not- but that’s where I’ll draw the line in my description.
Just trust me- One Cut of the Dead is really quite ingenious through all the low-budget bloodshed, and even a bit touching in the end- you can’t help but have a great bit smile on your face.
It really does take a decent amount of time to get into the film- at least my favorite parts of it- and it’s a bit broad in its comedy, but hang in there- it’s a smash for a reason.
Yes, One Cut of the Dead is a meta zombie film- but don’t let that scare you. It’s one hell of a clever, energetic, fun, and even surprisingly sweet one.
One Cut of the Dead (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: “Action!”
Take a Drink: for severed limbs and heads
Take a Drink: for every tumble the camera/cameraman takes
Take a Drink: every time someone goes off script
Do a Shot: for the crane shot