A side-splitting, head-smashing, gloriously gory horror comedy, Shaun Of The Dead is hilarious. From the brains behind the superb sitcom Spaced, it's a knockabout caper that will amuse casual viewers and delight genre fans, paying knowing tribute to George A Romero's zombie classic Trilogy Of The Dead. Co-writer Simon Pegg stars as Shaun, an ambition-starved shop assistant freshly dumped by his girlfriend (Kate Ashfield). "It's not the end of the world," says his best mate, Ed (Nick Frost). Only it is. The dead start coming back to life and Shaun and friends must fight for survival.
Shuffling through life, Shaun initially fails to notice anything amiss. In a terrifically funny sequence, he strolls to the corner shop without registering the blank-eyed, bloody corpses as out of kilter with the neighbourhood's normal urbanites. Then the walking dead attack and Shaun must save his ex, her friends (Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis), and his mum (Penelope Wilton).
As with the best zombie movies, scant consideration is given to the cause of the undead curse, concentrating instead on how to escape it. Calling on cricket bat, spade, and even his record collection ("Dire Straits? Throw it!"), Shaun assuredly assaults the undead, finding the sense of purpose his life was lacking. It may be a bit pretentious to suggest a subtext to such ferocious fun, but SOTD's strength stems from strong characters whose dissatisfaction with their directionless twenties rings true.
The gut-busting opening hour gives way to a less sure-footed siege at the local pub, where the laughs lessen and there isn't the tension to really scare. But there are a couple of decent jumps, and the witty, inventive epilogue resurrects the grisly good humour. Pegg is a very likeable lead and Frost is brilliant as his loutish pal, stealing scenes right to the credits. Dead good.