Yes, Adam Driver brandishes a machete and wears glasses and this uniform in the new Jarmusch, but did you know that Adam Driver brandishes a machete and wears glasses and this uniform *and* drives a cute lil’ smart car in the new Jarmusch? pic.twitter.com/ssxdoSW8BP
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 14, 2019
Thankfully, I highly enjoyed this film, and not just because of Adam’s alarmingly distracting, machete-wielding forearms. “Jarmusch” here is Jim Jarmusch, director of quite a few critically acclaimed indie movies. He’s known for subverting popular genres for his own uses, and this film is no different. Critic reviews are mixed, to put it nicely, but I think it’s worth watching.
This is not the zombie film you’re expecting
It is imperative that you go into this movie knowing what to expect. THIS IS NOT A ZOMBIE MOVIE. It has zombies in it, yes, but do not expect The Walking Dead, or even the hilariously funny Shaun of the Dead. This film is less a zombie comedy and more a blatant political, satirical commentary on climate change and our consumerism culture. I don’t always have an eye for subtle metaphors and hidden subtext, but Jarmusch makes it easy to pick up what he’s putting down.
The story takes place in the fictional, sleepy town of Centerville. The citizens are going about their normal day. Regulars drink coffee in the diner, while police officers (Adam Driver, Bill Murray) half-halfheartedly deal with petty crime. Slowly, things start to go wrong. Radios don’t work, cell phones don’t work, the sun stays up far into the night. The news reports that the Earth has experienced “polar fracking”, causing the planet to slide off its axis. But don’t worry, the government and big energy corporations assure the populace that everything is fine, beneficial even! And then the dead start rising. But they’re not really hungry for the flesh of the living.
No, the undead seem more concerned with the appetites they had while alive. They limp around, gutterally groaning “coffee” and “free wifi” and “Xanax”. Zombie children ransack a candy store. Zombie men flock to the hardware store. Jarmusch is not subtle about the mindless consumerism. He’s not really subtle about anything in this movie. Take Farmer Frank, rocking a “Make America White Again” hat, yelling at the zombie “trespassers” who come onto his farm, and complaining about the diner coffee being too black. Or Officer Ronnie (Adam Driver) constantly remarking that “this is going to end badly”, prophetic of the film’s conclusion, but you get the sense that it’s also indicative of how Jarmusch views the future of the human race. His view is decidedly bleak.
But The Dead Don’t Die is still surprisingly funny, if you embrace the gags, glacial pacing, and occasional breaking of the fourth wall. It is downright comical how casually the town of Centerville faces the zombie horde. How politely, but methodically, they decapitate their newly Undead neighbors. Everyone knows you gotta kill the head in a zombie apocalypse.
That cast, though!
Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buschemi, Iggy Pop, and Danny Glover (just to name a few!) all turn in memorable and eccentric performances, fully embracing the camp. Also starring is Selena Gomez, who’s character Zoe is all of us (or maybe just me) when she takes in all six-feet-three-inches of Officer Ronnie, and the smoothest thing she can come up with is “I like your badge”.
Speaking of AD, he continues to show up to film sets and piss excellence. His performance is committed, deadpan genius, and the internet is already obsessed with how he says “ghouls”. He’s the source of most of the films comedic moments, and looks like a Clark Kent-esque superhero with his nerd glasses, perfectly coiffed hair, and uber-manly machete skills. This may or may not be
but definitely is my phone background.
Win a trip to LA for a coffee date with The Dead Don’t Die director Jim Jarmusch
Focus Features is currently running a sweepstakes to win round trip flights, hotel accommodation, and an in-person coffee date with Jim Jarmusch! You can pick his brain about film-making, ask about his rock band SQÜRL, or inquire how he personally plans to reduce his carbon emissions to save the planet. Contest ends June 21st, and you can enter HERE.