I’m really disappointed. Like insanely disappointed. I wanted another good zombie based comedy that happens to contain my favourite actor of all time, Bill Murray, and instead, Jim Jarmusch gives us The Dead Don’t Die, a film that feels incomplete and almost completely undercooked that relies on its star power far too much for the film to work at all.
The film takes the basic premise of a zombie outbreak beginning to happen. We see small signs dotted around the background to alert us while the rest of the characters remain oblivious, often saying how nothing that bad is going to happen (bar Adam Driver’s character) This is obviously the point as it’s a comedy. It’s clearly just making fun of the trope in these kinds of movie. The movie is, very basically, a parody of the zombie film the only difference is it has an acclaimed director behind it.
Bill Murray and Adam Driver play two cops in the middle of a zombie outbreak, not really doing an awful lot other than investigating a murder for a couple of minutes then driving around to stop the zombies somehow. It is completely disappointing that even in the role of the main character there is nothing in the script that plays to Murray’s comedic strength.
I’d say one of the main differences that set it apart from the crowd is the fourth wall breaking, a couple of times throughout the film they will make comment about how something is “in the script” or “that’s the theme song to the movie”. The first time this happens it is quite funny and was able to make me chuckle it then continued all the way up to the end of the film, it is even used as a cheap excuse not to give us an ending. It becomes tiresome and eye-rolly despite Murray doing his best with the material.
The lack of actually funny moments isn’t the only problem with the script is the lack of originality and the fact that instead of focusing on a better story to go along with its (unfunny) comedy, it focused on more awkward interactions for cameos like Iggy Popp or RZA.
The cast is a sore point here considering just how many cool people are involved, of course along with Bill Murray and Adam Driver, you have the likes of Selena Gomez, who is again given nothing to do other than ultimately meet a pretty gruesome end. That can be said for most of the supporting cast which includes Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones and Steve Buscemi. All of them play a stereotypical person within the small town and are also given nothing to do, say or like contribute in any cool way.
The only major exception to this is Tilda Swinton. She plays an ass-kicking, katana-wielding Scottish funeral home director who seems to know an awful lot about the zombies. She has all the best scenes and even steals the ones that weren’t originally meant to be hers. She ended a very noticeable laughter draught during the screening and continued to do so until her very strange end.
The Dead Don’t Die can be broken down into three U’s undead, underbaked and of course unfunny. It doesn’t offer anything new, funny or interesting and it is all the more disappointing considering the sheer amount of talent and funny people in this film. The only exception being Swinton who gives her mental A-game as she always does. More time developing the script and coming up with a better overarching story could have saved it. Instead, it is cold, lifeless and not that funny, quite like a dead body, I guess?