One Cut of the Dead review: Japan enters the zombie arena with this bold, and slightly bonkers, entry.

One Cut of the Dead review by Kat Hughes.

One Cut of the Dead review

Zombie films are a well trodden sub-genre meaning it’s really hard to do anything new or exciting. Shows like The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead have encouraged a host of filmmakers to tackle the reanimated deceased, and whilst many fail, Japanese import One Cut of the Dead succeeds.

Part found-footage, part Wes Anderson, One Cut of the Dead tells the story of a film crew’s efforts to create an innovative live zombie feature. The film kicks off with said feature, before rewinding to the preparations. It’s here that we meet our Wes Anderson-esque batch of eccentrics. This is a very interesting slant on the zombie experience, the opening drawing you in before expanding outside of the film within the film.

One Cut of the Dead review

What makes One Cut of the Dead truly special though is its opening sequence. Set in and around an abandoned warehouse, the entire first thirty-five or so minutes is one continuous take. It’s riveting, immersive, and a true feat of cinematic dance. The camera moves in and around our characters and settings seamlessly. Some of the angles and movements make it feel oddly like a video-game which, given the genre, works perfectly. The end shot is simply spectacular and, when it’s process is revealed later, is an act of pure genius.

With an opening so strong, clever and dynamic, it’s a bit of a jolt when we go back to ‘reality’. The narrative slows a little, but there are plenty of interesting characters to keep you engaged until the final payoff. There’s a glimpse behind the camera behind the opening stunt, and it’s a calamity of hilarity.

It won’t win any make-up awards however, as the zombies are made-up in a similar manner to that which your parents might have done to your face at Halloween. This fits in with the film within the film’s limited budget and scope. It adds an oddly charming note to the production too as it fully embraces its camp beginnings.

Once known to the horror world purely for their ghost girls, One Cut of the Dead proves that Japan has some new tricks to show us. Romero by way of Wes Anderson and Ed Wood, One Cut of the Dead is a fun-filled entry into the zombie archives. Come for the incredible opening, stay for the quirky humour and kitsch charm.

One Cut of the Dead review by Kat Hughes, July 2018.

One Cut of the Dead screened as part of the Fantasia International Film Festival 2018 line-up. It will also screen in August as part of Arrow Video Frightfest 2018 in London. 

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One Cut of the Dead