This is a Review of Jim Jarmusch’s 2019 film The Dead Don’t Die. I will avoid any details of events in the movie, but I will give my interpretation of the film, which in a sense is the biggest spoiler of all. I am not joking when I say that.
Micro-review: See it in 4k on an OLED TV.
Also, this post needs an image, and this one may or may not be a spoiler. I’ll never tell.
First off, this is my top movie of the year. I am not going to list what else I have seen this year; I would rather tell you the two movies that I think have affected me in a similar way: Fight Club (1999) and Brazil (1985). I list them reverse chronologically because that is the order I saw them. Now as I get over the realization that Fight Club came out 20 years ago, I also just want to plug my pick for 2017 best movie, 07/27/1978 (The Pipe Strip). Brazil, Fight Club, and now The Dead Don’t Die are Pipe Strips for me (seriously, watch this whole thing when you have the time).
Fight Club and Brazil are movies that told me to face the dangerous reality of white male privilege, but The Dead Don’t Die has a different message. In a sense I can almost see The Dead Don’t Die as a sequel to those movies. Their protagonists faced different fates, but in the end they were both able to affect the same change in the world, and that change was: none at all.
The Dead Don’t Die is bleak, but it is certainly not a nihilistic movie. It is darker than nihilism! Instead it is a truly apocalyptic movie, and the bleakest part is that we are all living it. It uses zombies because it unapologetically wants to use the recognizable metaphor already established by Dawn of the Dead (1978), but while Dawn of the Dead is an apocalyptic movie where the reactive force of destruction caused by the catalyst of our mindless consumption is basically vague and unstated, The Dead Don’t Die comes with the advantage of modern perspective, and clearly states: climate change is going to kill us. It is not a call to action, and I think that is the basis for most of the negativity unsuspecting viewers leave it with. It is an explicit warning that we have doomed ourselves, and we will not stop dooming ourselves until we are gone. That gives The Dead Don’t Die an honest message that I am currently coming to grips with in my daily life. If I had to guess whether we are going to: A) Accelerate, B) Halt, or C) Reduce; the rate of environmental and planetary destruction that will ultimately force humans to face an at-best-near extinction event, well I guess you can call me a pessimist.
That’s it. As I said, I do not want to spoil any specifics. The performances are what you would expect from its cast. It is the same Jim Jarmusch who made Down by Law (1986) and Dead Man (1995) which were borderline Pipe Strips for me as well. I would probably recommend seeing those two first, or if you end up seeing The Dead Don’t Die first and enjoy it, I would recommend seeing those two as soon as possible. Jim Jarmusch is now a “The End Is Near” sign guy standing on a street corner. If you think you don’t deserve to hear its apocalyptic message, or bizarrely have the idea that zombie movies should even try to deliver any other message, all it can say is: fuck you.
Wow! That was dark! I hope you enjoyed it anyway? *shrug* I haven’t been writing much lately, but I just wanted to put this out in the world before it becomes cool and mainstream to say how good the movie is. Also I want someone to tell me that my film knowledge is impressive. Good luck everyone!