The horror-comedy One Cut Of The Dead (Kamera O Tomeru Na!) contains what is probably the silliest premise for a zombie film. The small movie crew filming a zombie movie is attacked by real zombies after the director summons the dead to get more convincing performances from his actors. But what you don’t get from that quick one-sentence description is that this is the funniest, smartest, most original zombie movies audience’s will have seen in very long time. Every year, there are a handful of movies you should see (usually the quote-unquote Oscar films). But One Cut Of The Dead is that rare film you MUST see because it completely undermines your expectations and surprises you at every turn.
Do I sound way too excited about this film? Maybe. Should I calm down? Probably. Yeah, sure, I’m trying *a little* too hard to sell you on this movie, but there is a really good chance you will see this for the first time on a streaming platform, and there will be a point where you might turn it off and move on to something else. PLEASE! If you have that urge, resist it with all your might. One Cut Of The Dead is one of the most surprising films you will see all year, and that surprise hinges on you scratching your head for twenty minutes while you regain your bearings after an incredibly schlocky opening that hard cuts into something completely different.
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“One Cut Of The Dead is a roller coaster ride of expectations and payoffs. [You will be] in genuine disbelief at how smart this silly zombie movie is.”
One Cut Of The Dead is so brilliantly divided in three distinct acts. Act One is the film-within-the-film, titled (you guessed it) One Cut Of The Dead. The film is a low-budget, bare bones B-movie that follows a movie crew in the middle of shooting a zombie film. Things aren’t going well, but the day takes a turn for the worse when “real” zombies appear and begin devouring the crew one by one. This segment has all the trappings of a poorly made zombie film, loaded with over-the-top performances, questionable camerawork and seemingly needless moments that stretch on unbearably long. But just as you feel your attention begin to slip, the credits roll, and we move in to ACT II: The Making of One Cut Of The Dead.
Goodbye zombies, hello pre-production. We cut back several weeks and our director is being pitched a new, exciting opportunity. He’s been tapped by a few television executives to direct a new project that will be broadcast live in one continuous take, no edits. He’s hesitant, but he accepts, and we go behind the curtain, following the actors and crew as they plan, and rehearse what will become One Cut Of The Dead. Here we’re given a completely different look at our actors and small details are revealed that help explain how the final product became such an off-the-rails schlock-fest. A disagreeable actor argues with the director (constantly) about a zombie’s abilities. An actress insists they omit a key “vomiting” scene, even though we’ve seen it take place only 15 minutes prior. To say any more would be an unforgivable spoiler, but know that the second half of One Cut Of The Dead informs the opening film in a way that only helps your appreciation for its scrappy, indie quality grow.
I really can’t express how much I love the journey this movie took me on. It’s such a strange film that makes choices you do not trust, but it sticks to it’s guns and completely wins you over. One Cut Of The Dead is a roller coaster ride of expectations and payoffs. You will fall in love with this movie, fall out of love with the movie, only to find yourself head-over-heels once again, in genuine disbelief at how smart this silly zombie movie is. It’s that rare type of movie that takes everyone by surprise. Each and every person who sees it somehow feels they personally discovered it, and must now go out into the world to evangelize the gospel of One Cut Of The Dead. I’ve been hearing nothing but positive feedback all summer, and it still caught me off guard. In Japan, the film was an absolute sleeper hit, coming out of nowhere to earn over $20 Million at the box office from a scant $27,000 budget!
One Cut Of The Dead might be the best movie I have seen all year (and I’m really sick of zombie movies). It’s a love letter to B-Movies, movie-making in general, and the frustration at needless compromises when creating something of your own. It’s also a touching story of a family that has drifted apart over the years, coming together again to re-kindle a frayed relationship. One Cut Of The Dead is a low-fi masterpiece that seeks to tell every angle of a story from multiple vantage points. In 90 minutes you are given a film, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a making-of documentary, and a no-holds barred tell-all.
“One Cut Of The Dead might be the best movie I have seen all year […] a low-fi masterpiece”
It’s no surprise that Shin’ichirô Ueda’s feature debut is making such a strong impression on the 2018 festival circuit, and it deserves every bit of praise it has received. One Cut Of The Dead celebrated its Texas premiere at the 2018 Fantastic Film Festival where it also won Best Director of a Horror Feature, and the Audience Award for Best Feature. Check out all of Nightmare on Film Street’s Fantastic Fest coverage here!