One Cut of the Dead Written, directed, and edited by Shinichiro Ueda
Cast: Takayuki Hamatsu, Mao, Harumi Shuhama, Yuzuki Akiyama, Kazuaki Nagaya, Manabu Hosoi
Shudder | Variance Films
96 minutes | Not Rated
U.S. Release: September 13, 2019 (NY/LA)
Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead from 1985 is the first major case of the “Zom-Com,” the blending of zombie horror and comedy. A seminal classic about punks battling the undead in a cemetery, it’s not hard to find influence for Edgar Wright’s genre redefining Shaun of the Dead from 2004. While the zom-com has become prevalent in recent years with films like Zombieland (2009) and this year’s The Dead Don’t Die from Jim Jarmusch, the best of the lot by a mile is Shinichiro Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead. The Japanese zom-com first premiered last year, but is making its American theatrical release later this month. The word of mouth has been off the charts and I’m happy to say that all the hype was real and One Cut of the Dead can take its place on the Mount Rushmore of zombie comedies.
One Cut of the Dead is not only a zombie comedy, but also a hilarious inside look at the film industry itself. The film asks a unique question: What if a film crew in mid-production of a zombie film was in fact attacked by zombies? Worse off, what if the director was a crazy maniac who refused to stop shooting no matter what?! The director is played by Tayakuki Hamatsu in his acting debut and he is absolutely fantastic. He’s funny, but also plays a great psychopath, obsessed with completing his film despite the potential deaths of his cast and crew. Also, a standout is Harumi Shuhama as Nao, an assistant with self-defense training who takes her training to the extremes once the crew is under attack.
The title of the film gives you a clue as to what makes this special. One Cut of the Dead opens with a first act that is all done in an unedited one cut. It makes the characters’ movements and actions seem legitimate and realistic, while the setting of an abandoned warehouse and the surrounding woods make for a fun environment for the filmmakers to explore. It almost feels like first-person shooter video game House of the Dead where you’re in the atmosphere of the characters and the tension is palpable because of it. Plus there are hilarious nuances, like the cameraman wiping blood splatter off the lens and then tripping while trying to film an actual zombie eating one of the actors. Then the credits roll and after only 36+ minutes you’d have a resounding success of a film. But that’s not the end. I won’t go into detail and spoil the fun, but suffice to say you get to relive this amazing first act through a totally new perspective that ends up elevating the film to the stuff of legends.
One Cut of the Dead is right up there with zom-com classics The Return of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead. It somehow breathes fresh air into a sub-genre I thought was out of new ideas. Ueda gets his cast to completely buy in to his insane vision and they act the heck out of it.
The film opens theatrically in New York and Los Angeles on September 14th, and on September 17th it will have a special one-night event screening across the country. To learn out more on the film and its theater locations, check the website: onecut-movie.com.
One Cut of the Dead will also be making its streaming debut on AMC’s horror streaming service Shudder later this month. Check out shudder.com to get 7-days free and sign up.