A delightful, low budget zom-com that delivers an inventively fresh take on an age-old genre.
IMDB Synopsis: Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies.
One Cut of the Dead is one of the best zombie movies to come out in years. This low-budget import finally has US distribution (via streaming service Shudder), and fans of the genre should be rejoicing. Previously, relegated to viewing only in Japan (ed note: or on an int’l flight to Japan), this low-budget flick has an inventively fresh take on the what has sadly become a pretty tired genre. Director and co-writer Shin’ichirô Ueda proves that you don’t need big budgets, fancy production design or an apocalyptic premise to make an undead theme work.
The premise of One Cut of the Dead is simple enough: A movie crew is filming a zombie movie in an abandoned WWII-era factory, when they are attacked by actual zombies. During the first half of the film, you’re embedded with the cast and crew as they fight for their lives. The hook for the audience is that the entire first half of the movie is a one-shot. All one scene, unbroken, as the zombie attack unfolds. It’s an interesting premise, and the 37-minute oner is a good angle, but the low budget-ness and lack of storyline add up to more of a schlocky B-movie than an instant cult classic.
If you invest enough in the film and characters, the movie rewards by revealing itself. Without spoiling, the second half of One Cut of the Dead takes a poor pastiche of a zombie film to an incredibly funny and touching addition to the hallowed genre. In essence, you see the “fake zombie movie” that the crew films a second time, only knowing the film’s secret this time around. The way the film unfolds is equally hilarious, full of heart and inventive in a way that scrappy low-budget films often are. One Cut of the Dead will also drop you with its earnestness and thoughts about family (both the ones we choose and the ones we don’t).
Certainly it is loaded with B-movie gore (meant in the best way possible), as zombie movies should be. But more importantly, it’s chock full of heart and the against-all-odds filmmaking spirit. One Cut of the Dead proves that you don’t need big budgets, famous actors or beautiful locations to craft a wholly enjoyable and incredibly powerful genre film. For fans of the zombie genre, lovers of filmmaking or those looking for an absurdly good time, seek out One Cut of the Dead.
Highlights: More laughs than scares, One Cut of the Dead is fun and inventive enough for everyone. A true highlight to get friends to watch it.
MVP: The entire movie is the MVP. Without spoiling, the premise and full cast have to be appreciated as a whole.
Should you see it: If you like zombie movies (or just love interesting cinema), then check this out. It’s one of the most inventive in (any) genre and breathes life to a tired landscape. 9.5/10.
Director: Shin’ichirô Ueda
Studio: Enbu Seminar // Release date: September 9, 2019 (USA – Shudder)