by Steven Wandling
Japanese zombie film One Cut of the Dead already has a reputation for being one of the most original, funny, and yes groundbreaking zombie films to come along since Shaun of the Dead (2004). First initial impressions of this zom-com are nothing but utter joy for not only its love of low-budget genre cinema, but for the process behind the films that we all know and love as fans. Anyone that has ever spent time on a film set in any capacity should have an absolute blast with One Cut of the Dead, and fans of the genre in general should also go along with this unique and heartfelt addition to the litany of great zombie films throughout the history of cinema, from Romero forward.
It’s a film, that to large extent, is almost impossible to discuss without spoiling what’s going on in a narrative sense, and why One Cut of the Dead is such a special film. I implore you to stop reading this review now, go watch the film as soon as possible (currently streaming on Shudder), and then come back for my thoughts on the movie because the best way to experience this is to go in absolutely blind. If you choose wisely and do so, you’ll be rewarded with one of the best genre experiences in years. The movie is so good that, either way, it’s not reliant on the spoiler to be a success. Your call. That being said, the rest of this piece will contain some major spoilers for One Cut of the Dead, so no one can say they were not warned.
One Cut of the Dead is actually the title of a fictional low budget tv show within the movie that is being broadcast live and filmed in one continuous take. The audience doesn’t know this however, as the film starts with playing the actual half-hour live broadcast of One Cut of the Dead. It’s a brilliant slight of hand for a couple of reasons: it pulls the wool over the audience’s eye in a way that isn’t mean-spirited or without narrative purpose, and the story leading up to and the production of One Cut of the Dead that the rest of the film chronicles make for a much more enriching story about low-budget film-making with well-rounded characters. It’s funny, zany, exhilarating, and oh yes, bloody as hell.
It brought back really fond memories of acting both in theater and working on short films on a personal level. It really should connect, in a really surprisingly heartfelt way, with anyone that has spent any amount of time making movies with little to no budget. There’s a certain energy that One Cut of the Dead manages to tap into that is only ever really encountered by those working on an actual low-budget film set. That authentic peak behind the curtain is really what makes the movie work so well on a general level for all audiences to enjoy and offers such rewarding repeat viewings as a film itself. One Cut of the Dead is the type of movie where you want to watch it each time with a new friend just to see their reaction or share that knowledge that this one really nailed it. Without question, One Cut of the Dead is not just a landmark for Japanese or zombie cinema, but cinema as a whole. It’s a film we’ll be talking about for a long time.
Expertly helmed by Japanese writer-director Shinichiro Ueda, One Cut of the Dead really gives viewers three movies wrapped up into one refreshing film that revitalizes the zombie genre, just when it seemed it was going to sadly die off into irrelevancy. The film has a perfect score on the infamous Rotten Tomatoes and a very high audience score to match. I usually don’t get too caught up in RT scores but it is rare to see such critical and audience acclaim for this type of movie. Everyone seems to agree: this is a special movie that doesn’t come along often.
One Cut of the Dead is all heart by way of blood, guts, and brains. The expert cast acting as crew and cast of the tv show inside the movie (that is itself hilariously a narrative inside a narrative) are all in top form in One Cut of the Dead, not to mention it’s the most exciting zombie film in recent memory. Go watch this movie. Watch it again. Then, go pick up a camera and make your own damn movie! One Cut of the Dead will inspire accordingly.
One Cut of the Dead is streaming on Shudder now! Thanks for reading! If you like what you’ve seen, please share with your horror loving friends! Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook! If you would like to write for creepylovely, just send us a private message or DM on social media! Stay creepy!