One Cut of the Dead

One Cut of the Dead ★★★★

It’s not saying very much to declare Ueda Shin’ichirô’s debut feature the best zombie comedy since “Shaun of the Dead” — no disrespect to the likes of “Life After Beth” and “Scouts Guide to the Apocalypse,” but the decomposing sub-genre has been in desperate need of fresh brains ever since Edgar Wright brought it back to life. Enter “One Cut of the Dead,” a low-budget, high-concept work of tongue-in-cheek genius that not only matches the best of its predecessors, but also lovingly articulates why people are drawn to these movies in the first place.

Unfolding like some kind of unholy cross between “Day for Night” and “Diary of the Dead,” Ueda’s self-reflexive delight honors and humiliates zombie cinema in equal measure (and also in that order). The infectious fun begins with a virtuosic but strangely casual 37-minute long-take that messes with your expectations from start to finish. Somewhere in the bowels of an abandoned Japanese water filtration plant, a young man (Nagaya Kazuaki) with bloody clothes and rotting skin — his face a vintage shade of Romero green — is about to take a bite out of his rosy-cheeked girlfriend (Akiyama Yuzuki), but she doesn’t look scared enough for someone who’s about to lose her life.


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