While much of the success of U.K. import zombie/comedy Shaun of the Dead could be credited to the resurgence of zombie films in general, Shaun is a movie that transcends the genre, offering up a story as hilarious as it is frightening, and as romantic as it is surreal.
Meet Shaun (Pegg), a dutiful member of the working class caught in a tug-of-war between his slacker best friend Ed (Frost) and his girlfriend Liz (Ashfield). Liz wants Shaun to commit to a real relationship; one that goes beyond drinking themselves into a stupor at the Winchester pub night after night, while Ed wants someone to get stoned with and play Tekken 2 into the wee hours of the morning. When Shaun misses an opportunity to set things right with Liz, she breaks up with him, and it's at the worst possible time as, for some mysterious reason, the dead have started to walk the Earth, feeding on the living. Now it's up to Shaun to save not only his relationship with Liz, but the lives of his mum, his friends, and himself. But fear not, he's got a plan! And it involves a cricket bat.
Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's homage to George Romero is chock full of bone dry British wit, gloriously funny in-jokes, and the stoner charm that was the hallmark of the duo's popular television series "Spaced". However, Shaun is also a downright effective zombie film in that it's actually quite suspenseful in places, features a fairly sickening amount of gore, and even had me jump in my seat on more than one occasion. But make no mistake about it, Shaun of the Dead is a comedy first, and a zombie film second, but the marriage of the two genres is just about perfect. Some jokes fall flat, but others are there to prop them up, and the performances by Pegg, Ashfield, and Frost, with their oh-so-British reactions to what essentially amounts to Armageddon, are side-splittingly effective.
Rogue Pictures releases Shaun of the Dead with a decent sampling of extras, but, sadly, nowhere near the amount of goodies featured on the 2-Disk Region 2 set.
Still, there is a lot here, as we get a great widescreen transfer of the film, commentary by cast and crew, deleted scenes, a video diary by Simon Pegg, interviews, photo galleries, casting tapes, and much more. It's a fairly loaded set, but hardcore fans of the film may want to look into importing the superior British DVD as it features three more commentary tracks, outtakes, and several more featurettes.
Shaun of the Dead is a horror movie for people who love comedy, and a comedy for people who love horror. I really can't think of an audience who wouldn't find something to love about this twisted and unique film, as it's simply one of the best treats of the year.