‘One Cut of the Dead’ review: A Tokyo zombie flick done right

A still from ‘One Cut of the Dead’

A still from ‘One Cut of the Dead’  

The living dead come alive in the Japanese film with rare zest and fun

The real and reel come together fortuituosly in Shinichiro Ueda’s Japanese zombie comedy, One Cut of the Dead. The little-known film, made at almost zero budget, with a relatively unheard-of cast and crew, went on to become a blockbuster in its own right. The ingenuity of the cult hit of 2018, is in how cleverly self-referential it is. Meta at its very best.

About the goings-on at the shoot of a low budget zombie film in an abandoned water filtration plant, it is a celebration of independent, low budget filmmaking of its own kind and its sheer inventiveness, quirks, zest and energy. No wonder then, the film revels in its own home video feel but also doffs its hat to the grungy aesthetics of film that it’s about – a perennially on-the-move camera – among the many improvisations on the set. One Cut of the Dead demystifies cinema to a great humorous and humane effect. Freaks, undead corpses, butcherings, blood and gore and screams and shouts: all the conventions of a zombie film are there. But all with a twist.

One Cut of the Dead (Japanese)
  • Director: Shinichiro Ueda
  • Cast: Takayaki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama, Harumi Shuhama, Shinichiro Osawa
  • Storyline: A ragtag but resourceful film crew shooting a zombie film in an abandoned water filtration plant is hit by zombies

Of course there’s a 37-minute single-take opening shot. But the biggest strength is the eccentric but likeable characters. The perfectionist director who, despite the limitation of resources, would want the 43rd take to get the “real fear” and “true shiver” out of his actress. And the emotional side-story of him and his daughter, the one who truly believes in him and is a true inheritor of his filmmaking legacy.

Telling readers, anything more about the film would be giving it away. Suffice to say that the chills, thrills, laughter and cries make the film just what the doctor has ordered to fight the moody blues in the COVID-19 times. But this is also a film whose joy and delight has to be shared in the best of company. Now if only you could do a viewing party with it; virtual if not for real.

One Cut of the Dead is currently streaming on Mubi India

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 6:46:23 AM |

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