I love zombies. Just like most people in the world I would assume, but recently the zombie film has been very played out. We've had everything from comedies, dramas, romance, action, and of course, horror films about zombies. Now, we have the Japanese made zombie horror film One Cut of the Dead which attempts to revitalize the genre. I'm happy to say that it not only does so in spades, but it also gives you much more than what was advertised, and in this case, that is a beautiful thing.
Warning: I must urge everyone that has not seen the movie yet to please see it first before reading this review, as that'll be the perfect way to experience this terrific film. Please watch it. Thank you.
Shinichirou Ueda (director of Rice and Boobs...no I'm not kidding) directs this Zombie Horror in a surprisingly thoughtful way. It's a film about zombies, but it's also a film about teamwork, families, and the hardships of low budget film making, and Ueda adeptly mixes all of these themes together in a mixing pot of horror perfection. I was honestly flabbergasted as the movie goes from one thing to another in a bold and ingenious way without any of it feeling jarring whatsoever. Ueda is now someone that I'll keep an eye on for the future. He seriously impressed me with this offering.
What starts out as a tried and true horror film with tons of blood and limbs flying everywhere ends up turning into a terrific piece of satire about the troubles of low budget movie making, working as a team, and the challenges of being a parent and the bond between family members. You want zombie action? You got it! Do you want some relatable characters that you feel for as well? You got that too! I'm always happy when a film doesn't cater to its genre. When it breaks out and does something new and ends up being a better film for it. That's what One Cut is. A better film because it wasn't shackled down.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
You'll be quick to say that the acting, in the beginning, is pretty wooden and amateurish. Some scenes feel extremely awkward and almost laughable as if the actors had no idea what to do next in the scene. This all seems like it should lead to a negative review for this section, but the acting is a huge reason why this movie really works. The whole movie feels like a puzzle box that you're trying to figure out and once you do, the acting truly shines! The actors give genuine, heartfelt, and hilarious performances and the characters are ones that you'll want to root for to survive and to thrive. Loved this cast of lovable, goofy characters!
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
I'm not an expert in music nor am I one in Japanese music, but I felt the score and music selection was perfect for this film. It felt right with the many tones of the movie and helped transition each one without it feeling jarring. I particularly liked the music in the final act of the film which is easily the most tense and entertaining part of the film.
The film gives us exactly what you'd expect from an R-rated zombie horror movie. You get occasional blood splatter and fake limbs being thrown around while pale, big-eyed zombies run at the camera terrorizing our characters. It has a low budget charm to it all that really makes the movie even more lovable. The work that went into filming a big chunk of the movie though is really admirable. I don't want to spoil it but there's something here that is a technical feat that is truly spectacular to see.
I wish I could sit here and tell you about everything I loved about this film, but that would be ruining something I consider to be truly special. It might even be a once in a lifetime kind of film. A beautiful, intense, bloody homage to filmmaking and the horror genre that will leave you feeling great towards the end. A highly recommended piece of cinema.