It may be hard to believe that the classic British movie Shaun of the Dead is 13 years old, but as it was released in 2004, yes, we really are that old. Despite its age, however, netflixguides.com have ranked it as the best zombie movie available on the platform, and this just goes to show that even in a decade, nobody has managed to surpass its unique feel.
While Shaun of the Dead was only the first in what Simon Pegg and Nick Frost refer to as the ‘Three Flavor Cornetto Trilogy’ – a set of movies that also included Hot Fuzz and The World’s End – it is certainly the most beloved, and one that changed the horror comedy genre by moving away from parody.
A Comedy With A Real Story
Where other horror comedies such as the Scary Movie franchise focused on parodying the tropes of horror movies and were simply there for the gags, Shaun of the Dead actually presented a real plot about a zombie insurgency. Sure, it was funny, but it still managed to be a zombie movie with real moments of danger, and also parts that made us sad when characters were lost to the zombie horde.
The comedy element was driven by the ordinariness of the team facing the zombies, and the fact that the best plans they could think of were to head to their local pub or throw their record collection at the zombies. Funny, but perhaps quite relatable to many people in the audience who, in reality, wouldn’t have an especially heroic plan to fight the zombies either!
Genuinely Sympathetic Characters
Another thing that made Shaun of the Dead stand out compared to other horror comedies is that the characters themselves had a sense of likeability and normality.
In horror comedies, the characters are often larger than life and there to be made fun of or to do wacky things. In Shaun, however, the characters were ordinary people with ordinary problems, for instance with their love lives or relationships with their parents, that wasn’t played for laughs. You got the sense that these people were funny because they had a sense of humor, rather than as the butt of a joke made by the writer.
A Satisfying Ending
One of the running gags in Shaun of the Dead is that there is another party, very similar to Shaun’s and lead by Simon Pegg’s co-star from the sitcom Spaced, Jessica Stephenson. In the end, this party has managed to get the army involved, suggesting that they are operating in their own more dramatic movie while Shaun and his group are fending off zombies in their local pub. Where not many zombie movies have a military resolution, leaving the audience feeling that everything is a little helpless, in Shaun, the crisis ends in a satisfying way – as does the love story featured as a sub-plot in the movie.
As yet, nobody has been able to make a comedy horror or even a general zombie movie as good as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s brilliant 2004 effort.