One Cut of the Dead Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
Written and directed by Shin'ichirô Ueda
2017, 96 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest UK Premiere on Saturday 25th August
Come to the cinema unprepared and overspent on Coke and popcorn? Never mind – because at least you get your money’s worth with One Cut of the Dead (or Kamera o tomeru na, its native title). The Japanese zombie horror-comedy essentially offers three films in one: a film within a film, with another film filling in the gaps.
If your zombie-loving self thinks that sounds unnecessarily confusing - it is coming for your brains in a big way – and are instead about to reach for Dawn of the Dead for the hundredth time, stop right there, as this inventive debut by Shin'ichirô Ueda sits alongside the likes of Maggie, It Stains The Sands Red and The Girl With All The Gifts as one of the most original zombie movies in recent years. And you won’t want to miss it.
It all starts hurriedly with the presentation of ‘One Cut of the Dead’, an experimental 37-minute, one-cut zombie movie that’s being live broadcast on Japanese TV. The ‘movie’ sees an amateur film crew in a former WW2 Japanese facility attacked in a zombie outbreak while – cue ironic tone of voice – shooting a low-budget zombie movie. The usual post-apocalyptic gung-ho chaos erupts with an ass-kicking protagonist and more fatalities than in a Mortal Kombat sesh, and at the 37-minute mark the credits roll.
It’s watchable at best – there’s no reason anyone with a half an hour film-viewing rule going into One Cut of the Dead blind wouldn’t pull the plug prematurely – but that’s actually the point. And you’ll soon – very soon – see why.
Post-credits, we long-press rewind back to the month building up to the broadcast, gaining contextual insight into the auditions, the hiring of an unwilling director, and also, with it expanding into a droll family drama of sorts, his life at home with his eclectic wife and textbook teenage daughter.
And a month on, it’s time for the event – only this time we see the behind-the-scenes action during the broadcast in real-time, which provides context for some of the awkward behaviour and production oddities in the ‘One Cut of the Dead’ broadcast we saw an hour prior. Sigh of relief.
While humour often rears its head throughout the film’s entirety, it’s in this final section where wide grins are replaced by Ab-toning belly laughs, as unfortunate events and hilarious mishaps reveal themselves in what is largely a well pulled off pastiche (and in some ways a scathing commentary) on low-budget filmmaking, complete with a river of apt references and terrific performances from an unfamiliar cast.
To quote the reaction of the ‘director’ when a terrified schoolgirl boots away a rolling zombie head, One Cut of the Dead is “fun-fucking-tastic”. And with the UK premiere at Arrow Video Frightfest 2018 (Friday 24th, 6:30pm), it’s sure to be a real crowd pleaser.