"They're Dead. They're ... All Messed Up": The Dead Don't Die is a Dry and Very Unusual Comedy
Indie legend Jim Jarmusch has a unique talent for taking classic genres and making them uniquely his own. Whether they're Westerns (Dead Man), urban crime films (Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai) or vampire movies (Only Lovers Left Alive), it's easy to point them out thanks to Jarmusch's offbeat sense of humor and existentialist musings. His new film The Dead Don't Die is his take on the Zombie Apocalypse film and as expected of Jarmusch, it is much more concerned with small-town quirkiness than any genre conventions.
Set in a very small Pennsylvania town, the film follows two police officers (Bill Murray and Adam Driver) who find the mutilated bodies of several townspeople. Soon the town is being invaded by the living dead and an ensemble cast of characters must fight to survive the night.
The description makes it sound like a typical zombie film, but this film is unique in its quirky and very dry humor. It also moves very slowly, with Jarmusch taking his time to introduce us to his characters, ranging from three juvenile detention inmates, a strange old hermit (Tom Waits), and even a Scottish samurai coroner (Tilda Swinton). Also, the film is self-aware to the point of characters pointing out the fact that they are in a zombie movie. With characters referring to a song on the radio as "The Theme Song" and even two characters having a conversation about the script of the film, Jarmusch is obviously not taking this story seriously, but it never goes overboard into the pretentious. However, it takes a particular sense of humor to click with this very unusual film and audiences wanting a more conventional zombie story may find themselves disappointed. — Forest Taylor