The Dead Don’t Die is the latest film from Jim Jarmusch, director of Broken Flowers, Only Lovers Left Alive, and Paterson and it is probably one of the most unique and unusual films that I’ve seen this year. The biggest draw of the film is probably the cast. Bill Murray and Adam Driver take centre stage (this is Murray’s second film with Jarmusch) and the film also brings in stars including Tom Waits, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi, RZA, and Caleb Landry Jones. Following the success of Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead, the idea of another zombie comedy was relatively uninteresting but the cast did peak my interest. Anyway, in this post I’ll be reviewing the film but avoiding any spoilers if you haven’t seen the film yet.
Performances and Casting
The casting of this film does, as previously mentioned, bring in an all star cast. Luckily, in this case, this is quality as well as quantity and each of the cast members are perfectly chosen for their role. Adam Driver delivers again in a series of brilliant performances (though, to be fair, I haven’t seen The Man Who Killed Don Quixote) and, as always, Murray and Swinton are great. Another stand out performance is Caleb Landry Jones, who breaks away from his usual role type (like his characters in Get Out and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).
Screenplay and Direction
It is clear that Jarmusch both wrote and directed the film because it does achieve that atmosphere that can only really be seen in films that have a single person carry the story from the first idea to actually bringing it to the screen.
The screenplay is probably where the film falls down. The characters are all brilliantly unique and well written and the dialogue is genuinely funny and realistic (within reason). The main issue with the story is largely that it is extremely slow moving and breaks a lot of the logic that is assumed in film (basically, go in expecting to see something really weird). The issue with pacing, however, is not totally negative as it does contribute greatly to the comedy.
Technicals and Music
The music is generally reasonably unremarkable other than the well-chosen theme by Sturgill Simpson. The zombies are pretty well done but they aren’t really anything spectacular like what we’ve seen in The Walking Dead. The cinematography for the film was done by Frederick Helmes, who has previously worked with Jarmusch several times and David Lynch on Blue Velvet, is satisfying and stays creative while not being the focus of the film.
In summary, the film is well put together and enjoyable but I would only recommend it to a very specific audience. It relies on a very specific type of comedy and requires a level of patience that the average moviegoer might not have. I can easily see it becoming a cult classic in the future and, that being said, if you do go to the cinema to see it, expect the unexpected.
I hope you liked this review and be sure to check out more of our content at ScreenHub Entertainment such as my spoiler-free reviews of Rafiki or Men In Black: International and our article on Keanu Reeves’s character in Cyberpunk 2077.