‘The Dead Don’t Die’ Movie Review

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The Dead Don't Die

Bill Murray, Chloë Sevigny, and Adam Driver in ‘The Dead Don’t Die’ (Photo by Abbot Genser / Focus Features © 2019 Image Eleven Productions, Inc)

“So what are you thinking?” asks Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray). “I’m thinking zombies,” replies Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver). “What?!,” asks a puzzled Robertson. “You know, the undead…ghouls,” answers Peterson as they discover two people dead and partly eaten in the horror/comedy, The Dead Don’t Die.

Life is simple and laid back in the town of Centerville, Ohio. The worst Robertson and his team usually have to deal with is reminding hermit Bob (Tom Waits) not to steal farmer Miller’s (Steve Buscemi) chickens and the occasional passing of one of the older residents of the town. This all changes, however, when flesh-eating zombies start rising from the grave and attacking the innocent and unprepared people of Centerville.

It falls to a shocked Robertson, an unfazed Peterson, and a terrified Officer Mindy Morrison (Chloe Sevigny) to try to protect the town’s people from the hungry ghouls. To do so they enlist the help of the local coroner, Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton), who’s very talented at using a samurai sword to take down the undead.

You’d expect more from a comedy featuring an A-list cast and written and directed by Jim Jarmusch (Paterson, Only Lovers Left Alive). Unfortunately for fans of the undead, or comedies in general, The Dead Don’t Die is a boring, deadpan take on the classic zombies rising from the grave and attacking innocent citizens films that brings nothing new to the subgenre. The movie has a painfully slow pace and the dry humor is sadly scarce throughout it. The winks, nods, and breaking of the fourth wall from the cast is entertaining at first but eventually grows tiresome and annoying.

Rising above the material, Bill Murray and Adam Driver manage to be funny and effective as the police chief who can’t believe what’s happening in his town and the deputy who seems to know that the town’s invasion of zombies is “going to end badly,” something he laments multiple times throughout the film. Tilda Swinton steals the film as the odd but likeable sword-wielding coroner who seems to belong in another universe. Unfortunately, even their performances are not enough to make the film worth sitting through.

Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die never truly springs to life. Despite the stellar cast, this one’s dead on arrival.

GRADE: C-

MPAA Rating: R for zombie violence/gore, and for language

Release Date: June 14, 2019

Running Time: 103 minutes




Kevin Finnerty

Professional film critic since 2003 and a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society. Host of “The Movie Guys” radio film review show from 2007 through 2013. Film and television critic for Showbizjunkies.com and a movie buff since 1973.
Kevin Finnerty
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