One Cut of the Dead
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
The 309th review!
Today has just felt off and I can’t put my finger on it. I stepped into the station for the first time since mid-March as I prepare to head back into work officially on Monday. Let me tell you something, it’s such an odd sight to see a newsroom completely empty at 3:30 in the afternoon. With that hanging over my head, I wanted something a bit more light hearted, so I checked out...
One Cut of the Dead (2017). Shudder.
This is a weird movie and I was not expecting what I got. The synopsis is a group of people are filming a very low budget zombie movie in an abandoned warehouse in Japan. During the course of the shoot they’re attacked by a zombie. Making matters worse, the director is completely fed up by the efforts of his actors, so he’s demanding the camera still roll and he’s using the situation for his movie. I’m watching this film and I’m remembering people talking about how funny it was and I didn’t see it. There was awkward dialogue, weird silences, terrible effects and outside of the director popping up at ridiculous moments with a camera there wasn’t anything funny. At this point I was shocked by the rave reviews and 30 minutes in, the credits start rolling despite this movie being an hour-and-a-half long. After my confusion passes the movie starts getting better.
Turns out, this is actually three movies in one and the more I watch makes me appreciate the half hour I just sat through a whole lot more. The first is the actual movie as seen through the audience and how they pulled it off in real life is actually impressive. The title of the movie is fitting, because it really was done in one take and on a single camera. Apparently they nailed it on the second try, but an equipment glitch made the entire thing unusable, so they had to do it again and again until it was perfect. It’s pretty impressive what they were able to pull off.
Anyways, back to the second part, we’re treated to the buildup of filming and everything is starting to make more sense. This section you get to learn more of the characters and the casting, hiring and all the backstage stuff. It’s nothing special when viewed in a vacuum, but it gives you some good backstory and sets up for the final section and my goodness does the final act rule.
We get to see the first part, but from the eyes of the crew this time and everything begins to make sense. This is being done on live TV, so those awkward moments of characters kind of staring off into space or screaming awkwardly for a long time starts to make sense. Something has gone wrong and they’re adlibbing while the director and crew are practically killing themselves trying to get back on track, it’s awesome. The first zombie attack you see is so weird that you think, ‘is this really the best they could do?’ But then you find out that actor was drunk out of his mind, and it was the actually the director just out of camera shot throwing the drunk’s body around. It is hilarious seeing it play out this way.
Normally I’m not the biggest fan of the gimmick, but in this case it works brilliantly. All the complaints I had about the first half hour get explained and all of a sudden become really funny. Seeing the director’s wife getting thrown in the movie at the last second and then seeing the journey her character takes is so damn funny. There’s a part at the end where she’s completely lost in her character and it’s probably the funniest moment I’ve seen from a movie so far this month, I laughed out loud. As funny as it was, it wouldn’t have been as great if you didn’t have the two parts setting her up.
It’s a slow ride at the beginning and you may be tempted to turn it off, but I can’t stress highly enough, keep going. The last 30 minutes is some of the best visual storytelling I can remember seeing. Not only are some parts downright hilarious, but you get a peak behind the curtain on how some extremely low budget effects are done and it’s really neat. It’s one of the rare occasions where a lackluster beginning actually makes this movie better. Plus, watching the final moments of this movie, I can imagine they had a blast making this film. Be forewarned though, it’s a Japanese movie and it’s all in subtitles but they’re not too distracting. I highly recommend it. It’s smart, it’s funny and it’s a very fresh take on a, as much as I love it, decaying genre.
8.5 Dr. Chainsaws!
One Cut of the Dead
While shooting a zombie film in an old warehouse, the crew find themselves in an actual zombie invasion with a mad director who won’t stop rolling.
Directors Shinichirou Ueda
Starring Harumi Shuhama, Takayuki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama
Audio languages 日本語