Behold, another zombie film. This one is an import that had great success in its home country of Japan. It’s a film that is half found-footage and half studio shot. It is a wonderful hybrid full of ingenuity and creativity.
At its core, it is about a director who is trying to make a film about a zombie apocalypse at a WWII training facility. While he and his team are in the middle of shooting their film though, a real-life zombie apocalypse occurs. The director is manic and pushes his actors into scary scenarios and we watch the characters slowly grow insane and even turn on each other. All while the director laughs and shoves the camera in their faces.
However, and at the risk of spoiling the film, this is only half of the picture. In fact, if you read most reviews online they are divided. Half of the people hated this film because it is corny and badly acted, while the other half (myself included) loved it. One easy thing to tell though is that the people that hated this movie definitely did not finish it.
I say this because the film is literally broken in half. It begins with the found-footage tale as stated above. It is also entirely done in one single take – which is a bold and thrilling experience. But halfway through the camera pulls back, the title card is brought up, and credits roll. Anyone with a bone of patience in them though is able to see that at this point, there is still almost an hour of film left.
At this point, the film turns into a studio-styled film that takes place a few months before the film we just witnessed happen. Here we see the director at a meeting in a studio where they are discussing the genius plan to shoot and premiere a live found-footage zombie film (the very one we open the film with) with the ploy being that it is entirely shot in one take. From here, we watch as the characters from the beginning of the film meet up to review the script and plan the shots.
The third act of the film (and the honest reason you watch this film) is where we see the same film we open the movie with, but from the 2nd person perspective. It gives it a great sense of humor that makes the corniness we began with better understood and appreciated. Meaning we get to see the camera people work with each other, and we are now “in” on the fact of how meta this film is – it is about a real apocalypse happening while filming a faux apocalypse, which is all faux. It is absolutely hilarious to see the same 40 minutes we opened with but with a different light – further explaining why some people acted the way they did, and adding to the overall appreciation that the first act is seriously shot entirely in one take. You get to see the bloopers, the highlights, and the flexible improvisation that the team had to undergo to pull this off. All in the context of a real film rather than a behind-the-scenes documentary.
I loved this movie. I’ll admit that I was skeptical in the beginning because it does start off very corny. But after a short amount of time, you begin to realize the charm and heart being put forth, and it makes this film a complete joy.
"One Cut of The Dead" is available for streaming exclusively on Shudder.
'Til Next Time,