The Dead Don’t Die
This is a film that finds strength from mocking itself. Think of Steve Buscemi appearing in a red Trump hat that reads “Make American White Again.”
Tolerating both a lousy ending and the fact that this film falls short of Director Jim Jarmusch’s appealing romantic vampire film entitled Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), The Dead Don’t Die finds a way to entertain. As the small town of Centerville tries to understand why animals are fleeing into the forest, the answer soon arrives when the dead start to emerge from their cemetery graves.
Bill Murray does a wonderful job impersonating himself, and that is reason enough to see any film. Here he plays Chief Police Officer Cliff Robertson, and his interaction with his two deputies, played by Adam Driver and Chloë Sevigny, provides moments of comic inspiration.
In particular, Driver’s Officer Ronnie Peterson’s reaction to the zombie attack leaves him constantly repeating the memorable line, “Things are not going to end well.” Near the end of the movie, where Murray confronts him as to the reason he keeps repeating that phrase, Driver cryptically responds: “Jim showed me the script.” When Murray angrily snarls that he was only shown his own lines, you get an idea of how this film frequently goes where no zombie movie has ever gone before.
Everything is underplayed in this movie, and it leaves you enjoying the experience even though you are frequently left shaking your head. Good actors ranging from Steve Buscemi, Tom Waites, Danny Glover, Carol Kane, Selena Gomez, Iggy Pop and Tilda Swinton try to find a way to survive the zombie onslaught while ending up being devoured at nearly every turn.
What is interesting about this film is that many in the audience will find it to be a complete waste of time while others will enjoy its imaginative laconic nature. As noted about, while this film doesn’t rise to the level of Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, which also starred Ms. Swinton, it captures many of the elements of George Romero’s classic zombie film Night of the Living Dead (1968).
The audience in both films was rewarded knowing things were not going to end well.