2019 SPOOKY MOVIE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL Selection - Josh's review of ONE CUT OF THE DEAD
Directed by: Shin'ichirô Ueda
Starring: Yuzuki Akiyama as Aika Matsumoto, Takayuki Hamatsu as Takayuki Higurashi, Harumi Shuhama as Nao, and Mao as Mao Higurashi.
One of this year's most anticipated movies at the 2019 Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival is undoubtedly One Cut of the Dead. Also known as Kamera O Tomeru Na! (translated as Don't Stop the Camera!), if you want to use the Japanese name, Ueda's film provides a very unique take on the zombie/horror-comedy sub-genre. Instead of the standard "hack, slash, and joke" formula found in other films of its sub genre, One Cut sets up the idea of filming the mayhem all in one take! So, are you curious to know if this concept is pulled off effectively? Well, read on to find out...
Opening on an woman named Aika clumsily wielding an axe (as she wards off zombie), it soon becomes clear that the scene that we - as the audience - are witnessing is fictitious as we soon hear an individual yell "Cut!" It is here that we're then introduced to Higurashi, a film director who's noticeably unhappy with his actress' performance. After berating her as well as her zombie co-star, he storms off the set - all the while as cameras continue to film and capture the behind-the-scenes conversations of the cast and the crew.
However, chaos soon ensues as a real zombie apocalypse breaks out - forcing those characters (mentioned above) as well as others to fight for their lives. Ever the filmmaker auteur, Higurashi goes "insane" (more on this later) as he continues to film the apocalypse around him as well as his cast and crew. Aika, meanwhile, after being forced to kill a few of her friends (who have become zombies), soon comes into conflict with Higurashi & his manic behavior; eventually, killing him! Afterwards, based on how this sequence concludes, you're given the impression that the film is ending, but something unexpected happens instead...
The film cuts to one month earlier where we find ourselves in Higurashi's apartment. It's here where we meet his wife, Nao, and also learn about his job making TV shows at a local network. It is during his time working this job that Higurashi finds himself - after wrapping a scene for a TV series - approached by a pair of network executives to make a zombie project, but with one catch: they want him to do the project in one take. In other words, don't stop the camera! After being provided this backstory for our director, Higurashi's motives at the start of the film become more clear: he was simply a filmmaker trying to tirelessly fulfill his executives' seemingly impossible wish.
There are many other terrific moments to enjoy from this film overall, but in an effort to avoid spoiling them for you here, I'll just say this: even if you might not understand the nuisances of Japanese comedy, "working hard under difficult circumstances on a seemingly ridiculous task," is a universal situation that many of us can relate to. As a result, you'll be hard pressed to not find qualities of yourself (or others that you know) in these characters, something which makes One Cut of the Dead so enjoyable.
Overall grade: A+
ONE CUT OF THE DEAD premieres Sunday, October 6th, at the 2019 Spooky Movie International Film Festival.
For more info regarding the festival schedule, click here.