Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: The Dead Don't Die

It's a bone-dry zombie comedy with a great cast that will make (some) audiences very happy.




Photo by Abbot Genser / Focus Features
 

Audiences will assuredly be split on “The Dead Don’t Die,” a bone-dry zombie satire from arthouse auteur Jim Jarmusch. For those equally interested in tales of the undead and deadpan, fourth-wall breaking comedy, it’s a treasure; for those who find the pretensions of overly self-reflective cinema a bit much, it’s going to be ... well, a bit much.

Those who like it will, I suspect, really like it. We’re introduced to the small town of Centerville, Pa., through an encounter between two of its peace officers (Bill Murray and Adam Driver) and the town recluse, Hermit Bob (Tom Waits). A confrontational farmer (Steve Buscemi) is convinced Hermit Bob has run off with one of his chickens; the ensuing conversation, during which it is very calmly pointed out that shooting a makeshift rifle at people “happens to be against the law,” establishes Centerville as a pleasant combination of Stephen King’s Castle Rock and “Prairie Home Companion” hamlet Lake Wobegon.

Centerville is the name of a real town, however, only a few hours removed from zombie wellspring Evans City. It’s one of a dozen fairly blatant nods at “Night of the Living Dead,” deployed rhythmically as the citizens of Centerville begin noticing something’s amiss. Fracking around the North Pole has tipped the Earth’s axis, and night arrives in town several hours later than scheduled; when it kicks in, strange things start happening, beginning with a pair of coffee-craving zombies (Iggy Pop and Sara Driver) arriving at a local diner.

The town constabulary — also including an excellent Chloe Sevigny — debates what could be going on. Driver’s character cuts to the chase. “I’m thinking zombies,” he plainly states. “You know, the undead. Ghouls.”

Driver has the job of pushing things toward their inevitable conclusion; “It’s gonna end badly,” he repeats, eventually explaining his outlook in a manner that will solicit either laughs or groans. In that, though, there’s a deconstruction; we’re not here to wait while a town slowly accepts the unthinkable. It’s a movie. Zombies are arriving. Let’s get to it.

Aside from the aforementioned all-stars, Jarmusch has assembled a delightful cast, including Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, RZA, Selena Gomez, Carol Kane and more. “The Dead Don’t Die” is phenomenally self-aware and willing to have a good time at the expense of a certain seriousness. Hopefully, you’re on board with that — because it is a good time indeed.

My Rating: 8/10

"The Dead Don't Die" opens in select theaters on Friday, June 14.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Can't Miss Concerts in Pittsburgh in July

This month's lineup includes Belle and Sebastian, Kurt Vile and actor-turned-rockstar Billy Bob Thornton and his band The Boxmasters.

Recommended Pittsburgh Eating: 3 Recent Dishes I Loved

PM dining critic Hal B. Klein is eating seasonal salads, sushi and sandwiches.

Transit May Improve Thanks to New Technology

Public transit users may luck out if Port Authority’s wristband ticketing service experiment goes well.

The 400-Word Review: Toy Story 4

Pixar's signature series comes up with an enjoyable fourth chapter. Just don't set your expectations too high.

The Latest Restaurant Openings In Pittsburgh

We say hello to three new Galley Group concepts, plus Con Alma, Over Eden and Inner Groove Brewing.

The Business of Building Cookie Table Bridges

After her cookie table bridges proved to be a hit at her own wedding, a Pittsburgh bride has taken her idea to the next level.

All You Need to Know About Fireworks in Pennsylvania

With new state fireworks laws in place, Pennsylvanians will get a little more freedom to celebrate this Fourth of July.

July 2019: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

What We're Reading in July: The Pioneers

The Pioneers is historian and Point Breeze native David McCullough’s retelling of the settlement of the wilderness northwest of the Ohio River, which contained the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Perspectives: On Caring to See

A teacher at the University of Pittsburgh learns a lesson about street medicine.

PPG Paints Singin' the Blues for 2020 Color of the Year

Meant to offer relief from the anxieties of today’s fast-paced lifestyle, Chinese Porcelain is a mix of cobalt and ink blue. Here’s why you can expect to see more of it in the coming year.

Watch: The Best of Three Rivers Arts Festival

The 60th Three Rivers Arts Festival is history, but you can still soak in the memories of the music, art and food.

This Brit Fell in Love with Pittsburgh's Dirt

During the Civil War, a British writer was enchanted by Pittsburgh’s dirt and soot.

Artist Invites Public to Add to Time Capsule at Arts Festival

Toby Fraley’s love for historical photos inspired him to take the next step for Pittsburgh’s future.

New Dimensions: The Comic Book Store's Surprise Move

Comic-book (store) avengers. How a sprawling comic-book shop moved out of its longtime home — and reopened for business mere hours later.