If you haven’t seen this movie yet STOP READING NOW because there’s no way to briefly explain the film without revealing a spoiler, therefore this leaves one with two options, because of the initial setup of the film you might abandon the viewer thinking it’s sloppy or disjointed but then you miss the point and payoff, hence knowing it is great but could ruin your entertainment experience. Ah the toughest review so far I’ve had to write; I should mention I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Now this flick is ideally for anyone who’s ever worked on indie and/or no-low budget, where the script goes through rewrites on set, equipment malfunctions, with actor problems and egos. Any director or producer knows the heartache of this tight production, but let’s turn the dial to ten and snap it off, as you get film your flick in one hour, in One Cut, of the dead there’s no editing break, no post-production, and it needs to look perfect on a LIVE broadcast. Other horror films have attempted this experimental style such as Pig (2010), but the process originated with Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) (though he did slightly cheat he used eight cuts due to limitations of cameras to make a seamless appearance). Ready for that challenge, judged by millions seeing all your blemishes and flaws?
“One Cut of the Dead” takes its title literally, the first third of the film features one uninterrupted take. So how does that all happen? Well it was not very easy, and hence the spoiler warning because viewing the first half of the movie, will likely make some wiling to press the stop button, but resist that temptation, allow your primal horror instincts to prevail and finish the entire project. However before getting into the guts, this is a foreign movie, available in steelbook Blu-ray with great features (more on that later) from RLJE Films that was created on a budget of $27,000 and excelled in earning $30-million, not without controversy, apparently it got either leaked or pirated though some sources think only the first portion of the film was ultimately released; regardless the filmmakers achieved financial success. Therefore, one needs to thank Shin’ichirô Ueda who served as both director and writer of the complex setup, assisted by Ryoichi Wada in creating a horror tale mixed with comedy, perhaps not in lines but rather action which sometimes carries a production even further than mere words.
Let’s dip a toe in the water and hope it doesn’t get munched off, the small cast and crew shown filming at an abandoned water treatment facility, which according to legend was the site of Japanese WWII military experiments to resurrect the dead to continue to fight for the empire. The director Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) knows this supposedly is a myth and uses it to play up his production for authenticity. Suddenly the zombies appear staggering about, attacking the cast from there the blood spillage spreads like a flood and as they munch on the crew, there’s the director screaming for more action filming the madness, in a zany version of Diary of the Dead (2007). Even with more chaos occurring Higurashi keeps filming as wants his prima donnas cast of misfits to become a delicious meal for the undead. Is that whole movie one might ask, well not exactly. That’s where twist evolves from, though it’s not a jump cut rather a transition to the title card of ‘one month ago’ and then we get a filler of what leads up to this opening, a strange version of a flashback.
Some comments on message boards/forum sites point to the standard narrative story format rather than striving for the experimental “gimmick” i.e. One Cut, however when faced with limited resources in terms of financial budget constraints and crew personnel then thinking outside the box becomes the best option. That which appears as sloppy mashed together filming style with a zany director yelling action and stumbling out zombies is actually a larger project occurring, which this reviewer is not revealing at this time. The acting appears very rudimentary and even the special effects look cheap, but that all gives a deeper illusion of what is occurring, many filmmakers might want the A-list stars and the top of line effects, but those wants never fit an indie budget unless you know someone. Therefore sacrifices were made often usually by sudden choices on set, with the crew and cast believing they will do their best for the project.
I had the pleasure of viewing the steelbook version and the subtitles were clear and large enough to read without a distraction to the actual film, and the special features contain outtakes with a go-pro camera version, which is more for the cinematographers interest than mine. However, boiling down the film guts, it offers a lot of creativity for the method of presenting a good horror-comedy, unlike other critcs this has nothing in common with Shaun of the Dead (2004) rather it fits well with I Survived a Zombie Holocaust (2014) a film set that turns into a horror show of blood, guts, and well more blood, along with intentional bad acting. While the movie isn’t without flaws, it does entertain, especially for those who enjoy their foreign horror and healthy work ethic of blood, sweat, and screams of panic.
IMDb Rating: 7.7/10
Baron’s Rating: 7.5