Whilst filming a low-budget zombie movie in an abandoned facility, a team of filmmakers are attacked by real zombies. In amongst the chaos, the director tells the crew to ‘keep rolling’. With One Cut of the Dead (Kamera o tomeru na!), we have a film that can honestly be described as the greatest zombie comedy since Shaun of the Dead.
After watching the trailer, you may be wondering; “What is so special about this film?” Well, you honestly have to witness it to believe it. This writer is not a fan of public cinema audiences at the best of times, but this is truly a special experience that is best received amongst a sea of fellow side-splitting, popcorn-spewing zombie fans that are struggling to breathe because of all the laughter. In order to entice you into experiencing the film for yourself without ruining the pure genius of it, we will avoid as many spoilers as physically possible.
The plot is a simple one but it’s constructed in such a way that it’s a fantastic accomplishment for an independent film; with its timing and careful planning as the first part of the film is entirely, as the title says, in one cut. However, audiences may be slightly bewildered by some of the hesitation and awkward delivery from some of our actors which may beg the question of “what exactly am I watching?” There have been reports that some audience members have tapped out at this point. Please trust us when we say, the real fun is about to begin as the second and third acts reveal so much more about what we have just witnessed.
Every single piece of the first part of our tale is meticulously crafted by director, writer, and editor Shinichiro Ueda that when the film ends, everything falls into place perfectly and you have one of the best zombie comedies of all time. It is also clear to see that he has constructed a love letter to filmmaking and the chaos that can ensue when attempting to realise your project to its full potential. Ueda has masterfully organised a film that, no matter where you are from, you can enjoy every single second of it.
One Cut of the Dead’s budget was, in comparison to many films in the current age, a measly $27,000 (approximately three million Yen) and has took Japan by storm. Opening in a small theatre for a six-day run, the film, much like zombies themselves, spread like wildfire and in 2018 was the most successful film in Japan making over 1,000 times its budget.
It stars a plethora of unknown/amateur actors who, we would like to imagine, will get more and more roles after this breakout film based on their terrific performances and barnstorming chemistry with each other. A personal standout is Takayuki Hamatsu, who plays the film’s director, Higurashi. Whilst being simply hilarious throughout the film, he manages to capture the emotion of a small-time director who wants to create art rather than just a ‘film’ or ‘TV show’. His relationship with his daughter is brought to life in spectacular fashion when he shares the screen with Mao. Another particular highlight was that of Harumi Shuhama’s Nao, wife of Higurashi, who gets so caught up in her roles that it’s equally funny and terrifying.
At its core, it's a zombie comedy made on a low-budget but it is genuinely so much more than that. It possesses great heart, interesting characters and as mentioned previously, is the director's way of communicating the trials, passion, and joy of creating art in a new and thoroughly entertaining approach that you may well have not experienced before. There’s so much more we would love to share, but you must experience this story yourself in order to get the most appreciation out of this pure love letter to filmmaking. It’s POM-tastic!
ONE CUT OF THE DEAD / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: SHIN'ICHIRÔ UEDA / STARRING: TAKAYUKI HAMATSU, YUZUKI AKIYAMA, HARUMI SHUHAMA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10