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This cheerfully entertaining metafictional zombie horror comedy from Japanese film-maker Shin’ichirô Ueda reminded me overwhelmingly of Noises Off. Michael Frayn’s 1982 play shows, in three acts, the rehearsal of a terrible drawing-room comedy, then the same chaotic run-through as seen from backstage, and finally the same show well into the run, from out front again, but now disintegrating calamitously. (It is the inspiration for the stage show The Play That Goes Wrong.)
The spirit of this is found in what we appear to be watching here: a movie about a low-budget zombie horror film that, mid-shoot, is suddenly invaded by real-life zombies, which the crazed director greets ecstatically as the chance for some real horror – and all shot on one bravura 40-minute take (the “one cut” of the punning title). We get cheesy repeated crash-zooms, a fiercely convincing performance by the director, but oddly protracted improv acting elsewhere. It culminates with an impressive but wobbly crane shot.
But the movie’s second-act flashback shows us what has gone into the making of this movie-within-a-movie – we learn something important about its “one-take” rationale, and about the casting and the people behind the scenes. And so we watch the same drama all over again, in the same real time, with many new reveal shots explaining the weird surface strangeness of what we saw the first time, and disclosing the heroic rescues that prevented cockups from sinking the production.
It’s a movie that rescues the tired zombie trope – without insisting on metaphor or satire.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: One Cut of the Dead review – zombie films get a shot in the arm | Horror films