THE DEAD DON’T DIE
R – 1 hour and 45 minutes – Release Date: 14 June 2019 (USA)
Written and Directed By: Jim Jarmusch
Bill Murray as Chief Cliff Robertson
Adam Driver Adam Driver as Officer Ronnie Peterson
Chloë Sevigny as Officer Mindy Morrison
Tilda Swinton as Zelda Winston
Tom Waits as Hermit Bob
Danny Glover as Hank Thompson
Selena Gomez as Zoe
Steve Buscemi as Farmer Miller
Caleb Landry Jones as Bobby Wiggins
Carol Kane as Mallory O’Brien
Rosie Perez as Posie Juarez
Iggy Pop as Coffee Zombie
RZA as Dean
The quirky residents of the small, quiet town of Centerville find themselves overrun with zombies as the dead start to rise.
One of my favorite comedic bits is when a person, who has fallen on the ground, is screaming for their life as a steamroller approaches. Then we get a wide shot of just how far away the steamroller is, but the person continues to scream and flail until the slow-moving steamroller finally finishes them off when they easily could have gotten up and walked away unharmed. That’s Jim Jarmusch’s zombie-comedy THE DEAD DON’T DIE in a nutshell to me, at least the tone of the comedy. Yes, there is some skin deep social commentary, but this film is way more about being an odd-ball, idiosyncratic, deadpan, wacky, and totally self-aware take on the zombie genre.
The story mainly revolves around Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray), Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver), and as Officer Mindy Morrison (Chloë Sevigny) as they try to make sense of what is happening and how to keep the citizens of Centerville safe. Much has been made of the cast, and they are all amazing, but the true stand out to me was Adam Driver. His dry-wit, deadpan shtick playing against Bill Murray’s straight man routine was a delight. Tilda Swinton also seemed to enjoy every second she got to play the beyond eccentric, new mortician Zelda Winston.
Jarmusch does explain why the zombie outbreak happens, and what social commentary he adds to the film comes from this information as well as a few other scenes. Where George A. Romero’s social commentary cuts like a scalpel, here it’s metered out with a sledgehammer in the most unsubtle ways possible. It feels like Jarmusch is content with just shining a light on issues like global warming, rampant materialism, racism, fascism, homelessness, and addiction instead of giving us a study on the subjects. So we get quick scenes of zombies searching for wine, coffee, toys, and wifi over real thought provoking moments.
My only complaint was I wish I had more time with the weird, but interesting, characters in town before the undead began to eat their way through the cast. Besides that this was pretty much exactly what I was hoping for when I first watched the trailer. This film won’t be for everyone, and I think many mainstream moviegoers who check it out starting next weekend will walk out disappointed, but if a seriously dry sense of humor (and repeating jokes) is your cup of tea you should be thrilled with this new entry into the zombie sub-genre.