1) Shaun of The Dead
Ah, Shaun. (Or I suppose I should say, “Shaaaaaaauuuuun!”) The reigning king of the horror-comedy genre. What’s nice about the Wright/Pegg/Frost deconstruction of George Romero’s Dawn of The Dead is that their palpable affection for the conventions of the genre is matched by an equally strong affection for their characters. And you *really* need that human touch in this movie. Zombie apocalypses are pretty grim to begin with, and when you add the brilliant but chilly formalism of the movie’s structure into the mix, it could have been a punishing slog. But it’s defused by the easy chemistry between the lead actors, and the writing team’s determination to make even the least likable of their creations (that’d be David) recognizably human.
About that formalism: watch it again and notice how much of the second half of the movie calls back to the first half. Of course there’s that famous pair of shots of Shaun wandering out to buy the morning paper before and after Z-day, too hung-over and self absorbed to notice that society has collapsed overnight. But also note how in an early scene, when Nick Frost is arguing with his roomate, Peter Serafinowicz, Serafinowicz tells him “Why don’t you just go live in the shed?!” Kind of a weird thing to say, right? Unless you know how the movie ends. There are loads of these little details scattered throughout the film. Many relate to the timeline thing, but there are also random gags like Pegg trying to get reservations at a restaurant that’s literally called “The Place that Does All The Fish,” and Frost shouting “We’re coming to get you, Barbara!” to Pegg’s mother. It makes it a film that rewards repeat viewings. Preferably drunk, and with friends (also drunk).
Coming up next: Horror movies that emphatically do not reward repeat viewings.