Shaun (Simon Pegg) lives a perfectly mundane life. He works as an electronics salesman in London where, in the digital age, there are only so many stereos needed, and he is consequently bored. His boredom is tempered by his relationship with his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), who is thoroughly exasperated with him and his lack of both ambition and imagination. Liz is over going to his favourite pub, The Winchester, for every single date and she wants more. Between dealing with Liz, his worried mom (Penelope Wilton), and his estranged stepfather (Bill Nighy), Shaun is deeply agitated. His only refuge is in hanging out with his best friend, Ed (Nick Frost). Ed is a 30-something slacker who drinks, eats junk food, and plays video games all day. Essentially, he is the only person with less drive and ambition than Shaun.
Excitement soon visits everyone’s life when a zombie outbreak hits London. Unexpectedly, Shaun rises to the occasion and takes it upon himself to save Liz, his mother, and his friends. It is said that one never truly knows what they’re made of until they are tested. Shaun, who first believes the zombies to be sick, drunk, or homeless, becomes a hero upon learning their true nature.
In between keeping themselves safe and uneaten, and trying not to starve or fall asleep, Shaun experiences a real heart to heart with all of the important people in his life, and gets to the root of his own deep-seated issues. Liz has always been afraid of being “stuck”, and once he experiences several brushes with death himself, Shaun realizes just how short life is.
This brilliant comedy-horror, co-written by Pegg, is genius because of its simplicity, and how it brings realism to an unrealistic situation. Zombies do not exist, yet in every other zombie flick, people know exactly what zombies are and/or how they operate, as soon as they see them. Not the case here; Shaun and his friends have to learn as they go with this brand-new threat. Also, many horror films depict protagonists acting and reacting with an infuriating level of calm and composure to a situation that they and the audience are totally unfamiliar with, often making long soliloquies instead of just rightfully running and hiding. While the presence of a lead who is always calm, always assertive, and has myriad tactical survival skills might make more “serious” zombie films more compelling than this one, it also makes them less believable and definitely not as charming.
As we watch Shaun and his friends fight the undead and get a new lease on life, we also laugh along to very genuine blunders and cheer with their victories. Shaun isn’t the smartest, fastest, strongest, or fittest, and neither is anyone else. He is essentially the every man and the anti-hero rolled in one. Shaun of the Dead is the story of a totally regular guy kicking all kinds of zombie ass, which will never get old.
I give this one 3.75 stars.