In a world full of cookie cutter comedies, Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy is like a triple shot of espresso straight to your blood. If you thought Shaun of the Dead was going to be a dry, British version of Scream with zombies, you underestimate the combined storytelling powers of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar “Goddamn” Wright; and you should be ashamed. Ashamed.
Shaun of the Dead is chock full of zombie movie references, the least of which is the title. The story is a straightforward comedy survival flick with Simon Pegg as the lead trying to save his mom and ex with the help of his best friend, played by Nick Frost. The editing and camera work aren’t quite as manic as those of its spiritual successor, Hot Fuzz, the second installment in the Cornetto Trilogy, but they push the plot along with wit and winking charm. There is never a dull, empty moment in this film; the characters just pick up the story and run away it. You might have to jog to keep up with them, but you have the enviable ability to watch the movie over and over and over again to discover (and rediscover) all the little details you will still inevitably miss during your tenth viewing. (Which is just as well since the trilogy is endlessly rewatchable.)
What I love about Edgar Wright’s directing is that even though he is visually focused, his shots and edits are always in service of the greater good of the story and its humor. This should be, much like a zombie victim, a no-brainer; but Edgar Wright is one of the few filmmakers who seems consistently capable of balancing solid storytelling with interesting visuals. He’s also one of the few filmmakers who uses the medium as more than just a means of capturing a joke; the visual gags are built into the framing of each scene. (For more on that, check out Every Frame a Painting’s Edgar Wright – How To Do Visual Comedy.)
Shaun of the Dead isn’t available to stream on Netflix anymore, but the DVD can be rented through their site. You can also buy a copy on iTunes and Amazon. (Photo disemboweled outside a pub called https://cdn2.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/7381581/shaun-dead-2.0.jpg)