This Ends Badly

It’s been a busy month for me in terms of cinema going.

Not content with going to see Yesterday (which I liked, despite myself) and Midsommar (which I’m still not sure about, but since it still plays heavy on my mind I figure I must have enjoyed) I visited the local multiplex on a further two occasions this month.

Firstly, to watch Jaws, a film which I wasn’t old enough to go and see when it first came out in 1975, but which I genuinely think is one of the greatest films ever made.

Seeing it for the first time on the big sceen was an incredible experience, and if it’s showing in a flea-pit near you (and I have no idea what prompted my local place to show it), I’d urge you to go see. Sure, you know (I assume) what happens and how it all pans out, but it’s still a masterpiece.

Unlike the fourth film I saw this month, which has to go down as one of the worst films I ever saw.

All the signs were good for The Dead Don’t Die: it’s directed by indie-flick darling Jim Jarmusch (I thought I’d seen more of his films, but a casual post cinema attendance at his body of work reminds me I’ve only seen Night on Earth (which I have to admit I only watched because Beatrice Dalle is in it) and Broken Flowers (which I have to admit I only watched because Bill Murray’s in it) – there’s a different reason for me wanting to watch both of these actors which I imagine I don’t need to spell out) and, as I settled down to watch, huge tub of popcorn nestling against my hefty bosom, I was encouraged.

Check this cast list out and tell me you wouldn’t want to go and see a film that features this lot: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Rosie Perez, Selena Gomez, Tilda Swinton, even Iggy Pop is there.

Impressive, no?

Here’s the trailer:

And here’s the plot, as described by imdb:

The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves.

There’s a reason for that being so brief, and I think it’s from the old school of thinking that if you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything.

Sod that.

The Dead Don’t Die is slow, poorly acted (every one seems to not only be calling in their performance, but laying in a reposed position when they do so), has Tilda Swinton doing an odd Scottish accent for no apparent reason at all (other than that she can), offers no suspense whatsoever, has one of the oddest meta-jokes at the heart of it, and fails to utilise any of the talents of any of the actors involved.

For example i): Tom Waits is in it, but as a hermit recluse, cut off from society, living in a nearby forest. Which sounds like perfect casting. But all he does is swear at Bill Murray at the start of the film and then occasionally provide commentary as he watches the plot unfold through a pair of binoculars.

For example ii): Iggy Pop is in it, as a zombie. He looks healthier than he does in real life. Here is a seam of comedy rich for mining, I thought. But no: two scenes, and the acting talents of Mr Pop, such as they are, are dispensed with.

And then there’s this weird meta-joke which pops up every now and again (spoiler alert, as this is the best thing about the film, and even this isn’t great): Adam Driver seems to know a lot more than his character should. He keeps saying “Well this will end badly” like he’s trying to get a new catchphrase to stick.

When the title song – which features a lot – pops up for what seems like the billionth time in the first twenty minutes (and continues to do so throughout the movie) as Murray and Driver cruise sedately round the neighbourhood, Murray muses as to why it sounds so familiar. Driver’s response: “Because it’s the theme tune.”

Here it is:

Sturgill Simpson – The Dead Don’t Die

Double spoiler alert – and I alert you to this because if you are going to see this film (and I really wouldn’t if I were you), it seems to be central – this doesn’t get questioned or even mentioned again until, with a merciful twenty minutes or so to go Driver once more says “Well, this will end badly” and is finally challenged by Murray about how he knows that. His response is – look away if you don’t want to spoil the one good thing about the film – that he knows it will end badly as he has read the whole script. Murray, it transpires, has only been provided with the scenes he is in.

And then both of them are in it until exactly the same point, which ruins that joke, such as it was in the first place.

In case you haven’t got the drift yet: don’t go see.

More soon.

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3 thoughts on “This Ends Badly”

  1. Thanks for the heads up – I’ve also been to see Yesterday and Midsommar (agree with your assessments) but this week I went to see Vita and Virginia. It was really slow and boring for me. I of course know of Virginia Wolfe but haven’t ever read any of her books. I now probably never will. (Ooh, look at me being a bit horrible!)

      1. I didn’t, thus I can’t even get her name right it seems. Yes you might get more out of it than I did – good luck with that.

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