Everyone over easternKicks.com have been talking about this one for a while, and let’s face it, a comedy Zombie film is always going to get interest from me. What I wasn’t expecting was an outrageously brilliant micro-budget Japanese comedy that has a scope and execution that belies the financial resources behind it. And there is no way I can talk about it without *spoilers*.
The first act of the film is a single take, single shot 38 minute piece of brilliance. We start, in media res, as a young girl is terrorised by Zombie, until we hear “CUT!”, and it becomes clear that we are watching a low budget Zombie film being made. Then the crew are attacked by a REAL Zombie, and low-budget zombie fun follows. There’s some odd moments as we follow the story, but one puts that down to the cheap nature of the production.
Except we then get another “CUT!”, and we go back a month, and find out how everyone got to the start of this film. It appears our film director (whose tagline is ‘fast, cheap and average’) is contracted to make a 30 minute TV show for the opening night of a new Zombie Channel – the catch being the show is filmed in real time and in one take. We meet a number of actors and crew, as well as his wife and child, along the way, and get amusing insight into how low budget independent films are made. It’s all amusing stuff, but not as delightful as that opening act.
But that’s all ok, because the final act is the culmination of all the work put in so far. Because now we see how all those threads in the second act play out as we see how the first act was actually put together. Remember all those strange little moments we mentioned? Well they are all part of the complex and frankly brilliant sliding puzzle box execution that is put up on screen.
Many people have said that Japanese cinema is in a slump, forced out by Western Cinema and uninspired manga remakes. “One Cut of the Dead” shows that all is not lost. Director Shinichiro Ueda has put together something remarkable. It’s genuinely hilarious, and executed brilliantly. The cast of unknowns and first timers work together brilliantly. heck, it even manages to eek out a little bit of emotion right at the end.
“One Cut of the Dead” is hands down the best film I have seen this year. It’s not the Zombie Comedy you might think it is, but rather a fantastic comedy about movie-making. It might be a little rough around the edges at times, and occasionally you might feel things are a little forced to make the pieces go together – but it has more charm and smarts than pretty much any film I have seen in a long long time.
Highly Highly Recommended.