(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: Shaun of the Dead
Where You Can Stream It: Hulu, with a Starz add-on
The Pitch: Longtime slacker Shaun (Simon Pegg) is forced to fend for his life and protect his friends and family, all the while making his way to his favorite pub amid an undead outbreak in Edgar Wright’s classic zombie comedy.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: It’s fashionable right now for everyone to be watching pandemic movies, but rather than bumming yourself out with the depressing realities of Contagion or the ridiculous un-realities of Outbreak, watch Edgar Wright’s pitch-perfect zombie satire.
What is it about pandemics that makes us want to watch pandemic movies? Is it the survivalists in us, who are silently crossing off our checklists on how to survive in an apocalypse? Is it to seek out the hope that there really is a light at the end of this seemingly endless tunnel? I think it’s the escapism that they allow, where the cure can be found and the day can be saved. With Shaun of the Dead, the cure is laughter.
Despite its title — a cheeky play on George Romero’s zombie classic Dawn of the Dead — Shaun of the Dead has little to do with the 1978 horror film, apart from a subtle skewering of capitalism. A zombie-meets-romantic-comedy, Shaun of the Dead doesn’t have any sweeping commentary on the dark depths of humanity that usually comes with the zombie genre, and instead focuses on what a regular dude would do in a zombie apocalypse. And the answer is laughably, hysterically simple: grab his best friend, his ex-girlfriend, and his mom, and head to the local pub.
But what elevates Shaun of the Dead from its simple premise, and into cult movie status, is Wright and Pegg’s razor sharp script and Wright’s stylish and rhythmic aesthetic that the director would hone to be his most reliable comedic tool. That frenetic style would eventually be Wright’s calling card, and Shaun of the Dead would become the launchpad for the beloved Pegg and Frost-led Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, named after a brand of ice cream, with Hot Fuzz and The World’s End soon to follow. But there’s a scrappy energy to Shaun of the Dead that makes it one of my favorite comedies to return to, pandemic or not. The perfect parallels of the opening scene with the events of the rest of the film, Pegg’s desperately relatable protagonist, and Frost’s crass screw-up friend, all make Shaun of the Dead endlessly rewatchable. And really, who wouldn’t react to an apocalyptic event by heading straight for the alcohol?
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