REVIEW: The Dead Don’t Die
The zombie fad appears to be in its final days given the trickle of new novels, movies, and television shows. Another sure sign of its impending end is the arrival of satire, this time in the form of The Dead Don’t Die, a atar-studded comedy that shambled on and off the screen before you noticed it.
The film, out on disc now from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, should have been a laugh riot, a brilliant takedown of the genre., At least, that was the expectation that came with the pedigree: Writer/Director Jim Jarmusch, Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Rosie Perez, Carol Kane, and yes, both Iggy Pop and Tom Waits.
Set in a small town in west Pennsylvania, clearly an homage to the godfather of zombie films George A. Romero, the film starts off well enough but by the midpoint, shifts from comedy to action/comedy and loses its footing, decayed bits falling off with a thud.
While local farmers begin noting oddities, we’re told that Earth has shifted its rotational axis resulting in the birth of zombies, out for living flesh to consume. The battle for survival sets the stage for hilarity to commence. We certainly chuckle here and there, but Jarmusch never fully commits to poking fun at the zuvembi, not like the Zuckers did with the airplane disaster genre, and we the audience are all the worse for it.
We’re treated instead to chuckles, the occasional guffaw, and then loses itself and never recovers, leaving you deeply disappointed and dismayed. There should have been a lot more social satire interwoven with the genre spoof, but everyone plays it cautiously.
The film is out in the usual formats including a fine Blu-ray and Digital HD combo. The 1080p high definition transfer works just fine although not perfectly, much like the film itself. The same can be said for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Together, they make for a satisfactory home viewing experience.
The assortment of special features proves, perhaps, more disappointing than the film itself, since they are all very short, avoiding any depth, analysis, or background for the curious. We have Bill Murray: Zombie Hunting Action Star (1:21); Stick Together (2:47) where the cast praise their director; Behind the Scenes of The Dead Don’t Die: six-parts — Zombie Tai Chi (0:55), Growl Practice (0:18), A Spin Around the Set (0:32), Craft Services (1:00), Undead Symphony (2:16), and, Finger Food (0:22).