"This is going to end badly"- You will hear that line quite a few times in this zombie comedy from indie darling Jim Jarmusch, which certainly proves once again just what an acquired taste the director is.
The Dead Don't Die follows Chief Cliff Robertson (Jarmusch regular Bill Murray) and his small team of fellow police officers in the town of Centerville, which consists of himself and subordinates Ronnie (Adam Driver) and Mindy (Chloe Sevigny).
Soon, however, things turn increasingly outlandish and ridiculous when the Earth falls off of its axis and the dead begin to rise from their graves and unleash gruesome violence on those in Centerville. By the time the zombie gore starts, however, many may have already mentally checked-out. Yet, fans of Jarmusch will probably like what follows.
It is characteristic of the director's films that they have a contemplative pace, deadpan humour, performances ranging from the manic to the almost motionless, and leaning towards moments of complete randomness that the absurdity levels may just irritate rather than amuse, and The Dead Don't Die is no different.
However, this film is so self-aware that every line - no matter how meta or subversive it tries to be - feels especially calculated to give the impression of cleverness and to laugh at the clichés and tropes of the zombie movie genre, with an abundance of in-jokes and social commentary about as subtle as a sledgehammer.
The film is also almost like a love letter to Jarmusch's own filmography despite the genre trappings, with much of the all-star cast being previous collaborators with the actor, including rock star Iggy Pop as a zombie who becomes obsessed with coffee. Even many of the character names are references to their own actors or seem intentionally juvenile. And yet, as Jarmusch's films like to give off an almost half-hearted vibe, the results in trying to follow all of these lines are very uneven.
Some of the cast are particularly great, however, with the likes of Bill Murray and Adam Driver making an ideal duo, especially Driver who excels as the most clued-up member of the force and yet also perhaps the silliest - which really is saying something considering how inept these law enforcers sometimes are.
The real stand-out of this sprawling cast, however, is Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive star Tilda Swinton as a Scottish funeral home director, Zelda Winston, who is also a practising samurai and walks in dead-straight lines. Zelda is such a hilariously quirky creation that only Swinton could portray her, with the potential for her to also be another comment on the actresses' foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The humour in some places is very strong, particularly with Swinton and Driver involved, but the best jokes are probably repeated almost too much or are too sparingly sprinkled.
Ultimately, the hijinks grow increasingly cartoonish and bizarre to the point that it cannot be taken seriously in the slightest, and while this may prove difficult for some considering that the long and drawn-out nature of the film requires such patience, others will lap up the knowing tone that Jarmusch is going for.
The Dead Don't Die sees indie darling Jim Jarmusch offer a zombie horror-comedy that only he could with this bizarre but thoroughly calculated and deadpan slice of gore.
The Dead Don't Die is released in UK cinemas on July 12, 2019.Read More