An interesting little movie about how everything can go very wrong all at once, and how you gotta roll with the punches when you get hit.
Cut of the dead wasn’t what I was expecting. From the synopsis, it seemed like the shudder original was about a filming crew literally coming face-to-face with the actual undead. But it turned out…well, that’s exactly what it was about.
Literally, filmmaker Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) is challenged with creating an original short-film for a Japanese zombie network. The problem is, he has to nail it all in one, continuous take—no reshoots, no do-overs, as it’s being live cast to the network. So he only has one shot to get it right.
If that’s not difficult enough in itself, poor Higurashi is presented with the most exhausting cast in history; including a man who only drinks a certain kind of water and needs to know where the bathrooms are at all times, lest he have an ‘accident’; an inane drunk man, who shows up absolutely plastered to the set; and a woman with a new baby, whose husband is never available to babysit.
“Madcap” director in the film and actual director of the film, Higurashi.
Although it was more meta than I was expecting, I still enjoyed ‘Cut of the Dead’ for its interesting insight on improvisation when things are going horribly wrong. For example, as the film is only minutes away from its continuous roll, the literal tritagonist gets into an accident.
They panic, but instead of cutting her from the movie altogether, or simply shutting the project down, the filmmaker’s wife, Nao (Harumi Shuhama) reveals that she has memorized the entire script, and they give her the role.
His badass wife, Nao, who takes up the role and absolutely crushes it.
The one-take project is shown first—at a whopping thirty minutes and some change—and we get to see the insane antics behind the scenes in the second act. In the first version of “cut of the dead”, for example, there’s a scene where the ‘cameraman’ (actually an actor) gets attacked by a ‘real zombie’, and the zombie seems to throw up something to zombify the cameraman. It turns out that the ‘real zombie’ was stumbling drunk, and Higurashi had to hold him up for the scene; the improvisational vomiting was literally him throwing up from having one too many drinks, and the crew just rolled with it.
And, in the final scene, our protagonist of the “film” (the film within the film) Chinatsu, has just slaughtered the insane director and her boyfriend and looks above while standing on a pentagram made with blood. The camera pans up high, and that’s how the ‘film’ inside the film ends. Behind the scenes, the equipment used to lift up the camera falls off the building. Every single one of the cast members creates a human pyramid, and the filmmaker’s daughter sits atop the shoulders of her father, to create the experience of the camera panning upwards.
“One Cut of the Dead” is not a film that is going to make everybody happy, but it’s one that I found damn hilarious and fun as hell. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting, in the best way possible. If you like a behind the scenes zom-com, I’d say give it a try.