Jason Arment

The Dead Don’t Die: Film Review (Spoiler: It’s Terrible)

(Bill Murray, Chloë Sevigny, and Adam Driver in The Dead Don't Die. Photo: Focus Features)

Jason Arment reviews The Dead Don’t Die, the latest film by Jim Jarmusch with a star-studded cast, a disappointing entry in the zombie genre. (Focus Features)

 

The Dead Don’t Die is a film that doesn’t know how seriously to take itself, and its wonky tone throws off what could have been a decent installment in the zombie survival genre.

A star-studded cast of serious actors inclines the audience to expect a well-done film with laughs, scares, and maybe even a few moments of passion, but none of those things happen. Throughout the film, there are parts where parody gives way to satire, only to sweep back again, which is a bit like biting into something which hasn’t been cooked all the way through—the proverbial half-baked idea.

 

 

When the film becomes self-referential is where the verisimilitude of the movie crumbles, because these references don’t point back to the movie at hand; instead, the meta moments only serve to compound the movie’s identity crisis.

I genuinely laughed maybe a handful of times, and there were no stand-out scenes. Even if the film is viewed as a satirical spin on a rural town being ravaged by zombies where the characters are sort of actors playing their parts at the same time as they’re living and dying, the film still doesn’t make sense. Even if it did make sense, it wouldn’t make it funny.

 

The Dead Don’t Die is a film that doesn’t know how seriously to take itself, and its wonky tone throws off what could have been a decent installment in the zombie survival genre.

 

The acting is bad. I can usually deride performances by calling them “porno bad,” but at least pornos have climaxes; the ending to The Dead Don’t Die is the biggest letdown of the entire film, which is saying a lot. It doesn’t make sense, and it also doesn’t shed any light on what the characters are feeling or thinking during their bitter ends.

Whatever The Dead Don’t Die was trying to pull off, it failed. The movie unfolds like a bad prose piece proffered by someone in an MFA program who really liked Shaun of the Dead and didn’t understand acting or humor.

If you’re looking for a zombie flick that will make you sleep like the dead, then you’re in luck. If you’re looking for anything most of the people who go to the movies expect by default, then you may want to look elsewhere. It’s really a shame how bad the movie is, because performances this bad don’t die.

 

 

Jason Arment is the author of Musalaheen, a war memoir published by University of Hell Press.

 

Jason Arment

Jason Arment served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Machine Gunner in the USMC. He's earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Lunch Ticket, Chautauqua, Hippocampus, The Burrow Press Review, Dirty Chai, and War, Literature & the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities; anthologized in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors Volume 2 & 4; and is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, The Florida Review, and Phoebe. Jason lives in Denver.

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