I suppose my opinions on Shaun of the Dead and the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy run somewhat contrary to many. I consider this first installment to be the weakest of the series, not so much because it’s a bad or even mediocre movie, but because the zombie apocalypse genre tends to be limiting.1 You can do great things within it, but the boundaries are pretty well set.
Co-written by Edgar Wright and Sean Pegg, and starring Pegg and Nick Frost, Shaun is a Spaced reunion of sorts.2 The UK television show ran for two seasons and gained a cult-following for its surreal, pop-culture driven humor. Shaun maintains a lot of the latter—Romero references alongside obscure-ish influences3 are plentiful—but it is both more polished and more accessible than its predecessor.
So don’t get me wrong: Shaun is certainly a good zombie movie. It’s funny without being a parody, and the action is right up there with Romero’s … of the Dead series.
From a technical perspective, too, it holds high standards. There are some impressive tracking shots, and the use of colors makes for a stylish looking film. The acting is top notch, and only a horrible human being would not appreciate Bill Nighy’s appearance.
Shaun might in some ways be better than many zombie movies of yore, but good of a ride as it is, it is still a predictable one. I love the actors and the dialogue, and I love the cinematography, but as a love letter to old horror flicks, it might be just a bit too gushy. The second half in particular feels like it runs on autopilot.
The two other entries in the trilogy — Hot Fuzz and The World’s End — add more twists to their formulas and are better for it. Not that everyone shouldn’t watch and appreciate Shaun4, mind you. It’s an enjoyable movie, and a tasty amuse-bouche for what’s to come.
1 Now granted, you have stuff like iZombie, but I’d argue that is more of a zombie themed cop-drama-comedy.
2 Jessica Hynes makes a (too) short (of an) appearance, also.
3 The music sounds like something out of a Fulci film, for example.
4 Or Spaced for that matter.