Kevin Can F**k Himself, Nomadland, and One Cut of the Dead

One Cut of the Dead

Paul: One Cut of the Dead is a gonzo, ingenious, Sake-soaked riot. Extremely meta, the film literally chronicles the production of a low-budget, single-shot, live-TV special about a zombie outbreak at an abandoned WWII Japanese facility. Very quickly into the shoot though, things start to go haywire. Are real zombies prowling around? Is the mayhem all part of the script? With exigency and ingenuity, the director, actors, and film crew on the shoot are clearly scrambling to either: a) survive a zombie apocalypse; b) survive a disastrous live shoot; or c) survive both. Filled with blood, puke, injuries, and tears, One Cut of the Dead is a rapturous ode to the sacrifices and suffering endured by everyone involved in the laborious creation of a small, indie, zombie ditty. It is a tribute to the unflinching passion—bordering on madness—that spearheads the magic of filmmaking. It is a proverbial love letter to the lunacy of making movies.

The third act truly blew me away. Watching the reveal of how the first 30-minute single-cut take really happened was a brilliant postmodern move. Like a magician exposing their bag of tricks, we get to see how everything onscreen in the madcap first act actually transpired. Only, instead of being a masterful feat of execution as it seemed to us (the immersive viewer), the witty twist is that the 30-minute zombie special turns out to have culminated from an outright chaotic sequence of unexpected and extemporaneous events. Riffing and reacting to an unending concatenation of miscues, accidents, mishaps, and blunders, the film crew and actors had been forced to improvise and physically risk their lives to maintain the illusory legerdemain onscreen.

The final obstacle the cast and crew face is by far the most satisfying. Basically, when a crane that was setup for the camera is compromised and collapses, the entire team must get together to form a human pyramid to capture the final epic shot. This scene is perfectly emblematic of the collaborative process of making indie movies: perfectly encapsulating the earnest thesis of this sweetly ardent-hearted film visually and thematically. As the director climbs atop to get the aerial angle of the bloody heroine (standing with an axe in her hand smack dab in the middle of a pentagram in a state of paralytic dread), the transcendent message resonates loud and clear: that throwing oneself wholeheartedly and headfirst into art elevates us closer to the gods. Or, if that reading is a bit too bombastic, the ending at the very least proves that art elevates us above our otherwise fallen, zombified ontology.

Written by TV Obsessive

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