“The Dead Don’t Die” (2019) starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, & Tilda Swinton

In Centerville, PA (FYI: Hudson Valley, NY is where they filmed), Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) respond to a report from farmer Frank Miller (Steve Buscemi) re: a missing chicken. They briefly interact w/ Hermit Bob (Tom Waits), a bearded/armed eccentric who lives in the woods. On the way back to the station, Cliff notices it is still daylight after 8pm; Ronnie’s watch and cell have stopped working. At the local diner, Hank Thompson (Danny Glover), hears a radio report on “polar fracking.” Two zombies reanimate when night falls; they drink coffee and kill two women (Fern and Lily) working at the diner. When Hank comes by early the the next morning, he finds their mutilated bodies- yikes! Ronnie believes zombies killed the women.

Officer Ronnie Peterson: Is our plan to inform people about the zombie danger before it gets dark?

Chief Cliff Robertson: I guess so.

Ronnie: Because we passed Farmer Miller’s place a little while ago, do we need to inform him?

Cliff: F**k Farmer Miller.

Ronnie: Oh ok.

I learned that this is the 1st film of director Jim Jarmusch’s long career to receive a wide release in theaters here in the US! It contains deadpan humor (which is common for Murray) and is meta (self-referential). You’ll probably notice more if you’re familiar w/ the horror (esp. zombie) genre. I’m NOT one of those viewers- LOL! Also, the pacing is quite slow and the characters aren’t well-developed. I didn’t know what to expect here, BUT this is NOT my kind of movie. The zombie makeup and special effects seemed OK to me; I didn’t expect to see the more gruesome (bloody) stuff though.

Zelda Winston: Ah, Star Wars. That’s good fiction.

When Ronnie comes to the diner in his little red Smart car, the sounds are taken from a Star Wars vehicle. Later, when he hands the keys to the Scottish mortician, Zelda (Tilda Swinton), she notices his Star Wars key chain. Of course, most of the audience will know Driver as Kylo Ren in the latest sequel trilogy. He ONLY had about 3 wks to shoot this movie, as he was due back in England for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Driver’s hair is NOT too long; it looks really good/natural. He also wears (nerdy) glasses, but still has the Kylo (action star) body- what a combo! I felt a BIT bad for him seeing this movie- it just didn’t work (for most critics/viewers).

SyFy Channel Interviewer: “If you were a zombie, what would you be obsessed with?”

Driver: “I’d say cereal. I like all kinds of cereal.”

Sevigny: “Well, it’s not a thing, but vintage shopping.”

Frank wears a red baseball cap w/ the words “Make America White Again.” RZA is the driver of a WU-PS delivery truck; he’s a founding member of The Wu-Tang Clan musical group. The gas station manager, Bobby Wiggins (Caleb Landry Jones), knows a LOT re: zombies; this actor appeared in Get Out. The young “hipsters” coming through town (in a Pontiac Le Mans) are driven by Zoe (Selina Gomez). I learned that this car was prominently seen in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). Each zombie says only one word, related to something from their past or an item they are obsessed w/: coffee, Chardonnay, wi-fi, Snickers, popsicles, Alexa, etc.

[1] The zombie material is extremely familiar and there isn’t much to be said or done about endless scenes of humans battling zombies, but some of the quirky character interplay hits the mark; I was just left wanting more of that and less of the generic.

[2] Director Jim Jarmusch is trying for a meta hipster zombie comedy. It’s a more dead-pan and less funny Shaun of the Dead. […] This one is simply trying for fun. It’s not trying to be that smart. Bill Murray is perfect for the dead-pan especially without the anger to taint it. The cast is talented and they’re having fun.

[3] The zombie make-up was good, so that at least counted for something, but it wasn’t enough to make up for everything else where the movie either lacked, came in short or just didn’t even bother to make an effort.

[4] …if you like the filmmaker, go see it. But don’t expect greatness. Even I as a huge Bill Murray fan, who also likes Driver, cannot say this was a great movie.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

2 thoughts on ““The Dead Don’t Die” (2019) starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, & Tilda Swinton

  1. I’ve been somewhat of a Jarmusch fan since the mid 1990s and I liked this but didn’t love it (went to see it because as you note, it’s hard to see a Jarmusch film in the theatre unless you live in a big city). Like you, I don’t enjoy horror and don’t watch a lot of it. But I did enjoy the dead-pan level of the script and thought Driver was really good at that aspect of it. I remember thinking it was too long (although it’s not a long movie).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yeah, it was TOO long! I saw it actually on Amazon a few wks ago, but it’s also on YT. I’m really NOT a fan of deadpan humor; I like the more chatty/fast-paced banter stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

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