The Dead Don’t Die stars Bill Murray, Adam Driver, and Chloë Sevigny. These three are the police force of the quaint town of Centerville (sounds like the neighbouring city of Townsville).
They go through their daily lives patrolling Centerville taking care of the kooks that live within its borders. These include the wandering hermit Hermit Bob (Tom Waits), the introvert owner of Bobby’s Gas & Stuff Bobby (Caleb Landry Jones) and the Scottish samurai undertaker Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton).
Then one day the undead rise from their graves. There are the usual telltale signs. An attack that seems like a vicious animal attack or several animals which takes the lives of two people at a diner. However with a purple-hued moon above Centerville beaming down its strange rays, animals disappearing, and officer Ronnie (Driver) continually stating that it’s clearly zombies everyone realises something strange is afoot in Centerville.
Dead on arrival?
The Dead Don’t Die is something of a labourious trek. I kept waiting for the film to kick off. It felt like I was holding my breath over a precipice waiting for the plunge and it never came. There were moments where the gore got to me. The first death, in particular, is quite gruesome. This comes from some pitch-perfect acting on the part of the victims but apart from that nothing else is especially horrific.
On another quirky note, the cast of The Dead Don’t Die is incredible. Now I mean this in the sense that there are a number of high profile actors (Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez, Bill Murray) and they have nothing to do except spout dialogue in such a deadpan fashion you might think they too are a part of the undead masses.
On that note: There is a subtext running throughout The Dead Don’t Die of how the material possessions we hold so dear have made us already a part of the undead. This is a fine message even if it is in no way original but at one point the film turns the subtext into text and spells it out for you and it is so painfully awkward that it ruins the subtlety of The Dead Don’t Die.
If there was anything to celebrate about The Dead Don’t Die is that some of the characters have a few lines that bring a chuckle here and there. Adam Driver and Tilda Swinton have some great scenes especially in the last third of the film. Driver has a running gag that has a decent pay off at the end that was bonkers enough it worked for me.
Continuing the positives is an eerie atmosphere. This is encapsulated within The Dead Don’t Die score. It felt reminiscent of the horrors audience fell in love with from the ’70s, Dawn of the Dead comes to mind. This is also enhanced with impressive cinematography which once again evokes the horrors of yesteryear.
In the end, The Dead Don’t Die is a film with no pulse. Everything feels on autopilot save for the score and cinematography but if you are a fan of Jim Jarmusch and his work maybe you’ll find something here I didn’t.
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