Cannes 2019 review: The Dead Don’t Die


What makes Shaun of the Dead such an accomplished film is its combination of parody, comedy, and some genuinely well drawn characters.

The Dead Don’t Die falls flat on all three fronts. This zombie comedy by Jim Jarmusch opened the Cannes Film Festival, but likely for its all star cast including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton and Selena Gomez to walk the red carpet.

Focused on small town Centreville, USA, polar fracking has caused the earth to jolt from its axis and disrupt nature so severely the dead are beginning to rise.

If Jarmusch wanted to make an environmentalist comment, there were better ways of doing it than through yet another zombie movie. The zombie obsession with objects from their past life also appears to be a comment on materialism, 41 years after the undead besieged a shopping mall in Dawn of the Dead.

There are snippets of comedy, often by redneck Miller (Steve Buscemi), who wears a Make America White Again hat and has a dog called Rumsfeld. A lot of the humour is cheaper than even this however, such as movie references played with a sharp elbow and endless fourth wall breaking.

Swinton is delightfully weird as the town mortician. Adam Driver and Murray are clearly central characters to the film as a pair of cops, to the point where other plotlines are simply dropped as the story goes on.

There also seems to be an attempt to play the whole thing as ‘Minnesota nice’, which as much as adding any comedy to proceedings also deflates stakes as characters often seem utterly disinterested with what is going on. Perhaps a zombie movie can be the place for a Wes Anderson or Coen brothers tone, but it doesn’t come across here.

People I’ve spoken to have call The Dead Don’t Die ‘very Jamursch’. For an unitated it felt the the emperors new zombie parody.

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