Director: Jim Jarmusch
Screenplay: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton
Jim Jarmusch’s whimsical take on the zombie genre begins on a wonderful and lively start. However, around the 45 minute mark, the film begins to grow a bit lifeless, just like the zombie hoards who have invaded the quaint country town of Centerville. Thankfully, Jarmusch’s creative explanation for why a zombie apocalypse is occurring helps The Dead Don’t Die stay fresh and exciting. Furthermore, the outstanding cast that Jarmusch has strung together helps bring life to some fantastic and eccentric characters that are beyond entertaining to watch.
Thanks to extensive polar fracking, the world has suddenly been knocked off its rotation. This sudden jolt in the normal rotation of Earth begins causing strange effects, like what time the sun sets, pets and animals becoming fearful and aggressive, and phones and watches just completely stopping. This change in the tilt somehow also manages to reanimate the dead; causing hoards of corpses to come crawling straight from the depths.
When a couple of zombies (Iggy Pop and Sara Driver) invade the town’s diner – killing both waitresses and drinking all of the diner’s coffee – the town is sent into shock by wondering what could have committed such a horrible murder. “An animal? Several animals?” many characters ponder at the murder scene. However, when Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) suggests that there may be a zombie apocalypse at foot, Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Mindy Morrison (Chloe Sevigny) are at a loss for words. That all changes, though, when a dead body they have been storing in the police station suddenly springs to life, begging for some sweet, sweet chardonnay. The zombies naturally gravitate to what they most desired while they were living. If I were a zombie in this movie, I’d probably be on the hunt for the nearest taco truck.
Quickly, all of the Centerville locals begin having zombie encounters. The racist Farmer Frank (Steve Buscemi) fights off zombies on his farm, town oddball Bobby (Caleb Landry Jones) and local hardware store owner Hank (Danny Glover) team up together to fend off the hoard, and the incredibly strange mortician Zelda (Tilda Swinton) fights off the undead in her funeral home. The fight scenes are a whole lot of fun; especially the fight scenes involving Zelda chopping up zombies with a sick samurai sword.
Despite all of these great character moments (specifically Adam Driver and Tilda Swinton, who are the standout stars of the movie), the ending falls a bit flat, which is a bit of a shame when you really enjoy the first 3/4 of the story. The ending of the film leaves us with this message: we are all pretty much zombies anyway due to our growing stupidity from craving materialistic treasures. That’s definitely a message I can get on board with, but it is a little bit difficult to take that message to heart when you just watched Tilda Swinton get sucked up into a UFO because she was apparently an alien all along.
The Dead Don’t Die may not be everyone’s cup of coffee, but it is definitely one thing: original. The originality and the fantastically hilarious characters is what makes this movie so fun, and it truly saves it in the end. The movie also gets bonus points for having Sturgill Simpson singing the theme song and having him cameo as a guitar-dragging zombie. As a whole, the movie is an incredibly fun ride and will leave you feeling reanimated.