The Dead Don't Die ★ ½ ☆☆☆ | Movie Review


Something is happening to the world and Centerville is about to feel the force of the freshly awakened zombie horde.


I'm a little sad to say that I spent real money on this film. It wasn't showing at my Cineworld and the chance of a second stage release with the summer holidays approaching was unlikely. Luckily one of my Showcase Cinemas had it on and I ventured out into the real world to see it.

I won't bother with an extended synopsis because honestly I don't know what the point would be... it's zombies, everyone is trying to stay alive, literally nothing else is really happening in the story.

Up until this point I never really understood people using the word "meta" (unless it was DC related), I get it now. Officer Peterson, played by Adam Driver, is so meta that there actually may not be any more to go around.

The cast felt like it was just quirky enough to work together, especially as this wasn't going to be a traditional zombie movie. Looking back at the actors now I'm wondering if I might have enjoyed this movie more if it had unknown actors in it. I don't think it would have risen much higher in the rankings but I would have been less annoyed by some of the happenings.

Bill Murray plays Chief Robertson, a man who is seemingly always slightly confused by everything and also never becomes more than mildly alarmed by what's going on. The character and the performance were both rather boring. Murray came alive about as much as any of the zombies did.

The same can be said for Adam Driver, though I actually think that's par for the course with the way he acts rather than anything else. He always feels like mid-tier Keanu Reeves without the range. Once you realise that Peterson has the meta inside track it becomes a challenge to see anything he says in any other way. The script became rather frustrating because of this.

We're shown a very strange Tilda Swinton in the trailer and you have to wonder if the make-up direction was just "I want her to be the palest she's ever been and throw in a little "Ring" vibe for good measure." Zelda is probably the perfect zombie apocalypse companion, but she doesn't make for very dynamic viewing.

All of this negative feeling can be laid squarely at the script's door. It has little of interest to warrant a story at all, which is weird because there are elements that you think lead somewhere and then inexplicably don't. The ending is particularly bad and is what I've dubbed the "Stephen King ending". I won't expand on that here because it definitely constitutes spoilers if you haven't seen it.

There are some nice touches. The animal behaviour, the character of Mallory, and some of the effects on Selena Gomez. There's also some that left me questioning how they've portrayed zombies in this compared to other z-movies, but it's not in the trailer and while it's in my notes I'm wondering if I didn't just imagine the whole thing.

Those few little snippets can't save this movie. The poor script has several (that's me being generous) holes in it that just don't stand up when you look closely, and it's not good enough to give you anything else to look at apart from those holes. From its "maybe sciency things will cover the lack of reasoning" beginning to the "Stephen King ending" I was very disappointed.

What you should do

This is drinking game fodder if I ever saw it. This is only worthy of your time when it goes to streaming services. If you drink every time something meta happens you might be drunk fast enough to forget that ending.

Movie thing you wish you could take home

Some of Zelda's skills would be useful, and not just in the forthcoming zombie apocalypse.