Film Review: The Dead Don’t Die

Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die is not quite as satisfying as the package suggests. Nevertheless, there is still plenty to enjoy. 

Cliff is police chief of the small town of Centerville. When strange occurrences take place, Cliff and his officers try to figure out how to protect the town and its residents…

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, The Dead Don’t Die is probably the most star-studded zombie film ever made. From the main roles to minor characters, the film is populated with well-known faces. On the surface, the offering is most enticing. A zombie film with a focus on comedy, combined with the filmmaker’s offbeat appeal. 

The narrative begins well. The film introduces main characters and supporting characters, as well as the locale, in an interesting fashion. The humour is pretty effective as the narrative unfolds. The camaraderie between Cliff and Ronnie in particular a joy to watch. There is some on the nose social commentary, yet this is not unexpected.

The narrative builds towards the inevitable. Yet it also offers potential heroes in the ramshackle group of individuals in the small town. The film actually is less interesting with the increase of undead presence, oddly enough for a zombie film. Jarmusch chooses not to follow an obvious route however. Instead, The Dead Don’t Die offers a few unexpected moments before reaching its conclusion. 

The only issue with The Dead Don’t Die is that the second half feels like it has run out of steam. The jokes do not land as well, with a second fourth wall-breaking joke feeling flat. Whilst more gore was definitely not a requirement, some of the characters are completely underused. 

Several previous Jarmusch collaborators appear. Adam Driver and Bill Murray are as good value as ever, work well with Chlöe Sevigny. Tilda Swinton is great, while Caleb Landry Jones, Danny Glover, and Steve Buscemi are on good form. Production values are good, particularly makeup. 

The Dead Don’t Die is only a little disappointing given how much promise the film had. The film is still an enjoyable watch. 

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