Sometimes you’ve got to get a little meta…
It’s taken us a minute to get to this one and while having some separation has probably calmed my reaction to this one; One Cut Of The Dead is one hell of a funny, self referential and a little self involved look at the genre that isn’t afraid to laugh at itself.
While shooting a low-budget zombie film in an abandoned warehouse, the crew find themselves caught between actual zombies and a mad director who just won’t stop rolling…and if you think you know what happens next, think again.
From writer/director Shinichiro Ueda, One Cut Of The Dead is a gonzo and deadpan take on the zombie genre. It’s not as laugh out loud funny as you might think, but it’s so incredibly damn smart that you can’t help but appreciate what you are watching unfold.
It ain’t high art, but it’s occasionally refreshing to see a piece of cinema proudly embrace that this was all made on a budget.
Ueda leans into it all rather deftly, it’s a movie about making a movie…about making a movie. There’s lots of in jokes about the low rungs of the entertainment industry that we navigate through and with the nature of the shoot having this level of sly comedy to it that is trying to be low fi it all still looks exceptionally good.
Narratively this is all basically a labyrinth of logic but it all loops up and down and back and forth into this beautiful little piece of cultural satire. It’s so goofy that it actually ends up being this incredibly smart effort that has a compellingly frenetic and guerilla feeling to it all. This film didn’t have any business being as good as it actually was, but it succeeds because it’s the kind of story that everyone on the screen is 100% invested in it all.
The ensemble isn’t trying to give us any kind of over the top sly winks to it all and One Cut Of The Dead works as well as it does because it’s completely earnest in its tone. You can’t really rate performances from the cast and if some people stand out from others but it is very much an ensemble film as everyone needs to work in unison to actually be able to sell the story that is being told. From the over anxious director who is taking on this very weird premise and having to jump into the ensemble, the TV executive who isn’t necessarily looking at making “art” and just wanting to produce a unique live TV special as well as actors who take the job perhaps just a little too seriously.
Special features on the DVD include outtakes from the film, the POM! Instructional Video and a Photo Gallery.
Ultimately, One Cut Of The Dead isn’t reinventing the zombie genre wheel but it is a very subtlety smart film that needs to be seen to be believed. Shinichiro Ueda is a storytelling talent that isn’t afraid to push the limits of any genre that he is tackling to make something that might not be a total game changer, but it will always be interesting.