It’s difficult to make a good zombie movie. The subgenre’s been played out for years, but the films just keep on coming. But though zombies are overdone, every once in a while something truly unique makes it way to theaters. This brings us to Shinichirou Ueda’s debut film, One Cut of the Dead. Though the audience might be confused for the first thirty minutes of the film, the rest is filled with-wall to-wall belly laughs and what ends up being way more heart than expected.
The story follows director Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) as he sets out to make a zombie feature with actors Chinatsu (Yuzuki Akiyama), Nao (Harumi Shuhama) and Ko (Kazuaki Nagaya). When Chinatsu can’t deliver the performance he wants, the director goes to extreme lengths to try to get a real reaction from his actress. Nightmares come to life as the actors find themselves trapped in their horror film - but then something unexpected happens. Suffice it to say: this movie is not what it looks like on the surface.
And that’s all I can tell you without spoiling what's to come.
Some will read the “first thirty minute” disclaimer in the opening paragraph and automatically write One Cut of the Dead off. It makes sense, as that’s typically a big ol’ red flag, but it would be a mistake. This film will have you crying with laughter before the final credits roll - and that’s just a part of the surprising amount of appeal it holds.
Wrapped up in the mayhem is a love letter to the craft of filmmaking - or really any sort of high-stakes production that involves a crew of creative people. Anyone who’s worked on a set will find themselves relating to the myriad of moments when things don’t go Higurashi’s way. This one should be seen with a crowd, and one that’s made up of your friends if you can swing it. One Cut of the Dead is a low-budget masterpiece that’s just waiting to charm you to death - then bring you back to life so it can do it all again.