The Reel Review
When manmade climate change causes Earth’s poles to shift, the dead come back to life in the bucolic, small town of Centerville, USA. Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Chloë Sevigny are the puzzled police officers headlining an all-star line-up in this quirky horror/comedy from writer/director Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive, Broken Flowers). The cast also includes other prior Jarmusch collaborators Tilda Swinton, Rosie Perez, RZA, Steve Buscemi and Tom Waitz, as well as some Jarmusch newbies: Danny Glover, Selena Gomez and Iggy Pop.
Jarmusch showcases his trademark brand of droll, ironic and subversively political storytelling in this hybrid of 1968’s iconic Night of The Living Dead, Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller music video and the iconic Resident Evil 4 videogame, set to a groovy, iconic score. Unfortunately all this iconography does not result in an iconic film – merely an annoying, self-congratulatory one. Beyond an occasional chuckle, it just isn’t that funny and the political satire has all been done before – only better. Jarmusch’s puzzling third act decision to have actors break the fourth wall and discuss the script only further detracts from an already listless story.
Fans of Jarmusch’s nuances will appreciate all of his fun to spot, Pokémon-like details. And some of the acting is entertaining (namely, Tilda Swinton as the odd, out of this world, Scottish mortician, and Carol Kane’s cameo as the chardonnay-obsessed zombie). Unfortunately, these oddball characters make the movie sound way more fun than the tedious, missed opportunity it actually is.
• This is the first film of director Jim Jarmusch’s 35 year filmmaking career to get a wide release (in more than 600 theaters) across the U.S.
• Tilda Swinton gave Jarmusch the idea of doing a zombie movie while filming 2013’s Only Lovers Left Alive
• The characters Zoe, Zack and Jack drive a Pontiac LeMans, the same make and model car driven by the main characters in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead.