Astonishing as it seems now, Lucy "Girl Next Door" Davis was considered something of a sex symbol in the UK in 2004, thanks to her role as the token hot girl in Ricky Gervais's TV series The Office. This explains why she is plastered in make-up and simpers through every scene in Shaun of the Dead. In an eerily prescient taste of Davis's subsequent career, she plays a failed actress in Shaun.
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
It's a nice touch when Davis' character uses her acting skills to coach the others in an undead masterclass so they can walk through a zombie crowd undetected.
There's really only one good joke in Shaun: that no one notices the increasing number of zombies that have arrived in town since they are indistinguishable from the braindead humans who already live there, working their nine-to-fives for the Man.
Review continues below...
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Simon Pegg (co-writer) and Nick Frost play the adorable man-child leads. Personally, I’d like to see every onscreen man-child burned alive. As with so many man-child films, Shaun is dressed up as a rite of passage. Shaun (played by Pegg)'s girlfriend has dumped him because he's a man-child. He's got to become a real man if he wants to keep her. But he reeeeely reeeeely doesn't want to give up his no-responsibility job and his computer games and his nightly drinking at the local pub. It's another nice touch to equate the painful wrench between the states of man-childhood and adulthood with a zombie invasion. But the film never believes that the transition is worth making. True, Shaun mans up a little bit to take control of the zombies, but it's clear at the end that he never stopped believing that the man-child way was best. It's less a rite of passage than a rite of twat-age.
Every student in their cups dreams of writing a screenplay full of their drunken and stoned witticisms. Thankfully most are too drunk or stoned to complete a script and any rogue scripts that do make it into the world are quickly squashed by editors. Not so with Shaun of the Dead.
Most people will react to this film in the same way that they'd react to a group of drunken students in the pub – either to roll their eyes or to reach for the baseball bats, depending on their temperament.
Personal Score: 3/10
This is part of a series of film reviews where I give my comments on IMDB Top 250 films as a writer. The idea is that over time these posts will build into a wide-ranging writing resource.
For more details about the approach I've taken, including some important points about its strengths and weaknesses (I make no claims about my abilities as a film critic or even the accuracy of my comments... but I do stand by the value of a writer's notes on interesting films), see my introductory post here.