About the Film
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch
Written by: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Danny Glover & Steve Buscemi,
Release date: June 14, 2019 (Limited)
Rating: R (for zombie violence/gore, and for language)
Running time: 103 min.
Studio: Focus Features
The Dead Don’t Die is the latest– and far from greatest– film by prolific filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (Mystery Train, Paterson), who seems to have called in every favor he’s ever been owed in order to assemble a cast of some of the biggest performers he’s ever worked with over his long career. Chief among them Bill Murray and Adam Driver. The duo play a pair of cops patrolling the sleepy streets of their Podunk town when the zombie apocalypse suddenly strikes. It’s a setup ripe with comedic potential, which only makes the ultimate product all the more disappointing.
The Dead Don’t Die utilizes Jarmusch’s signature deadpan sensibilities while striving for social satire. It incoherently pins the end of the world on polar fracking, which has effected the Earth’s rotation to such a degree that watches don’t work, cell phones die, daylight is unending and, of course, the undead are rising from their graves and feasting upon the flesh of the living (and coffee). The laughs are few and far between, however, which exposes the film’s tonal inconsistencies and underlining smugness (Steve Buscemi sports a red “Keep America White Again” cap) and leaves The Dead Don’t Die feeling unrewardingly bleak with not much to offer beyond a dour outlook on mankind’s future.
Story-wise, the film jumps between different bands of survivors. Some have lived in the town of Centerville their whole lives while others are just passing through, but none are interesting or fun to spend time with. The lone outlier is Tilda Swinton as a socially awkward, katana-swinging Scottish undertaker with some rather peculiar interests (she enjoys making her cadavers resemble Ziggy Stardust).
I am well removed from my screening of The Dead Don’t Die and I still could not tell you whether it is me who resents Jim Jarmusch or if Jim Jarmusch resents me. At the end, I audibly groaned like a zombie at the self-satisfying manner in which this film references itself (“Why does this song sound so familiar?” “Because it’s the theme song.”) and classic monster movies without being funny and the unforgiving number of irritating characters who are introduced only to be dispatched just as carelessly.
⭐️1/2 (out of five)
Have you had a chance to check out The Dead Don’t Die? If so, what are your thoughts? Did you enjoy it? Or were you as upset by it as I was? Jump down to the comments below and let me know!