New to Blu: Giving Dead Zombie Tropes New Life: One Cut of the Dead (2018) - Reviewed

One Cut of the Dead, known in Japan as Kamera o Tomeru na! or Don't Stop the Camera! is a creative film that is comprised of a fantastically shot one-take zombie short film, as well as a fictionalized account of the events that went on behind the scenes while the filmmakers were making aforementioned film. The premise of the short is that a small indie team of filmmakers are making a low budget zombie movie and it's interrupted when real zombies start attacking them. The director (Takayuki Higurashi) doesn't want to miss out on all this sweet zombie footage so he follows the cast around with a camera as they fight for their lives against the bloodthirsty walking dead.

To say One Cut of the Dead has layers is an understatement, as it's a film about filmmakers making a film within another film. The actual short itself is well done--it's a thirty minute long single take which is damn impressive. The pacing continuously ramps up and it never feels contrived with the camera man having to run around zombies, wipe blood and...fluids off the lens, pick up his camera after getting knocked down and so on. Fans of horror and zombie flicks will have a blast. However, after the short ends it's only the beginning of the full story.

The second and third acts of the film shifts gears to depicting the circumstances behind the making of the film following the director as he goes through the process of casting actors and crew members and interacting with the producer. All the normal issues start popping up, from technical issues with the gear to the actors having personal problems that affect their performance on the set. The tone isn't serious though and most of it is played off as a comedy though it's also a story about the director who's known for being "fast, cheap and average" trying to prove himself and reconnect with his somewhat estranged young daughter who also aspires to work in the film industry.

I'm about to add another layer to this cake as a film critic because One Cut of the Dead also addresses how even with the best intentions movies don't always turn out how the creators want due to extenuating circumstances. So while watching the short film, I had occasional thoughts like "The dialogue feels awkward in this sequence" and "This shot feels like it's being held onto a bit too long" or noticing little continuity errors here and there. Nothing that was a deal-breaker, but noticeable all the same. 

In an absolutely genius move, the latter half of the film lifts the curtain and shows *why* these things ended up in the film, be it last minute script changes, technical malfunctions, etc. Usually, as a viewer I am not privy to all this information and I can only judge what's in the finished product. It was compelling and ultimately touching to see all the crew working together to overcome these obstacles and still try to create the best art they could. It gave me a different perspective than usual and I appreciated it greatly as someone who writes film criticism.

One Cut of the Dead is a fresh addition to both the horror and comedy genre and it also manages to be a great film about making art and the love and dedication it takes to be successful at it.

Currently the film is available on Blu and DVD from the UK based company Third Window Films:

LIMITED EDITION 2 DISC BLU-RAY ONLY VERSION with over 2 hours of extras!
• Interview with director Shinichiro Ueda
• Making Of
• “Take 8” – short film
• Outtakes
• Go-Pro version
• POM TV Instructional Video
• Slipcase

--Michelle Kisner