When you hear the premise and concept of The Dead Don’t Die for the first time, it actually sounds like a great and ambitious idea for an entertaining zombie popcorn flick to watch with your friends. Directed by Jim Jarmusch, a filmmaker recognized for making movies such as Broken Flowers, Only Lovers Left Alive and Paterson, has now decided to helm a project with a big cast of well-known actors that involves a simple premise of these characters trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. That obviously sounds like a cool idea! Sadly, it’s pretty underwhelming…
This movie has a huge cast of actors like Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, RZA, Caleb Landry Jones, Danny Glover, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. Unfortunately, some of them are barely in the film and don’t add anything to the premise. The Dead Don’t Die is overstuffed with multiple plot lines and characters, because its narrative is unfocused. However, the main plot of the movie mostly focuses on these two cops named Cliff and Ronnie (played by Murray and Driver) who are investigating what’s been going on in their small town of Centerville. They eventually find out that there are zombies and that they have to fight them in order to survive the apocalypse. And there are other people who you don’t care about also dealing with this situation. You can tell just by briefly summarizing the premise that it’s going to be pretty messy.
The humour is the best part of the entire movie, and it’s admittedly quite clever. Most of the jokes involve ‘meta humour,’ and you’ll actually have some fun with that. Sometimes, they even break the fourth wall. Even all the scenes that involve zombies are quite entertaining, and Jarmusch finds some fun and hilarious ways to properly utilize them throughout.
When you find out who’s starring in the movie, you’d think the star-studded cast would be the most memorable aspect. Unfortunately, there are so many characters, and it makes you wonder why some of them are even in the film. The only actors that stand out are Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Tilda Swinton, because they’re the only ones who seem to have something intriguing going on with their roles from start to finish. It would have been better to have a simple yet fun premise with just these two police officers on screen instead of having a huge cast just for the sake of it. Jarmusch, who also wrote the script, has a hard time giving the right amount of screen time for each group of actors. The pacing is painfully slow during the first half because nothing interesting really happens. Then the second half starts giving you what you have been waiting to see, but it’s a little too late.
Like the undead, The Dead Don’t Die is a deadpan bore. It adds nothing new to the zombie movie genre, and it’s certainly one of the most disappointing films with such wasted potential. Just because it has a big cast of actors and a simple premise involving zombies, doesn’t make it a great idea for a movie. While it has some hysterical moments with clever and well-written jokes, it’s unfocused, crowded and boring all at once… That’s never good for a zombie comedy.