When I recently reviewed Tigers Are Not Afraid, I went in not expecting much, because it was my first delve into a Shudder exclusive film, and, my first look at anything Shudder related at all. I had (incorrectly) assumed that the platform was yet another in a very long list of online streaming platforms with nothing special. But, I was pleasantly surprised by a very well thought out and engaging story that still has been on my mind even now, weeks later.
So when One Cut of the Dead showed up for review, I was immediately interested, and, to be honest, still a bit reserved. I was super stoked about the beautiful steelbook release that pairs well with Tigers Are Not Afraid (seriously, Shudder, keep doing this). We put the blu-ray in, and pressed play, not knowing what to expect.
Please note: I will go into detail in the following paragraphs, but I highly recommend watching this without any spoilers. The TL;DR here is that this film is amazing and 100% worth watching. If you are not worried about any spoilers, continue reading.
Having known nothing about the film going in, the first few minutes were severely underwhelming – the visual quality was sub par, and the acting was almost comically bad. However, it became very apparent that this was a very low budget one take film, which is when it got real interesting to me. Had I read a synopsis before pressing play, I would have known this already, but discovering it naturally has it’s own endearing parts for sure. In fact, I would say it only took about five minutes or so before I had forgotten by disappointment and instead was just impressed about how funny and entertaining this thing was.
By the time that One Cut of the Dead was ‘done’, I was near in tears of laughter and on the edge of my seat. This first act of the film is, on the surface, a bad b-movie that is just strange enough to be amazing.
But wait, there’s more!
Act II kicks in shortly after the credits roll, and we learn that this was not the movie that we had been watching all along, it was a movie that was being filmed for this movie. We get to learn about the cast and crew as they get hired to make this one cut film for a new zombie television channel.
I’ll be honest, after the high of watching the one cut film that these characters put together, the jarring and sudden change to the making of seemed really disjointed and I was starting to lose interest. But let me tell you, the third act is, quite possibly, the most entertaining and funny thing that I have seen in years.
As we follow the characters as they prepare and set up for this epic one shot take, we witness the filming of the one shot film in near real time, giving us the magic that is taking place behind the camera as a very intricate and detailed production takes place.
But then things start going wrong. And I don’t mean just a little – I mean off the rails. Almost nothing goes according to plan, but thanks to some incredibly sharp wits and quick thinking by the cast and crew, we watch as they adapt on the fly and make the film happen. I was fully in tears of laughter within minutes of things going awry, and it didn’t let up until damn near the end of the filming.
Not only is it hilarious watching the reactions and script changes on the fly, this third act also answers a lot of questions that we silently asked ourselves when we saw the final product in act one. It’s pure genius and it’s perfectly crafted.
It is a bit hard to judge this one on picture quality, mostly for the fact that the first third or so is very obviously shot in the spirit of ultra low budget filmmaking, and as such, has a grainy and amateurish look and feel to it. The audio is similar in these scenes, with heavy echoes and hollow sounds.
However, once the one shot part is done, the quality takes a big bump up back to what you would expect in a new release, and sticks around that way throughout the rest of the movie. This is, of course, a stylistic choice, and the right one, to be frank. This is not the type of story that needs pixel counting to succeed.
One Cut of the Dead comes in a really nice looking (and eyecatching) steelbook package with a Blu-ray and DVD, as well as a J-Card. The included special features are:
- Outtakes – a handful of extra or alternate scenes
- GoPro Version of One Cut of the Dead – full footage of the entire one take, from the director’s point of view.
- Photo Gallery
- POM! Instruction Video – a short video that was made for the self-defense program.
Our Recommendation for One Cut of the Dead:
One Cut of the Dead started off real strange, got amazing, then lulled a bit in the middle before it hit me in the face with nonstop laughter for another 30 minutes or so. I cannot recommend this one enough, but make sure you stick through it for the payoff at the end. It is fantastic.