I’ll be the first person to admit that more often than not, I am persuaded to go and see a film not because of the storyline but because of the actors in it. I am much more performance driven than director driven, and with names like Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny and Tilda Swinton front and centre here, The Dead Don’t Die was something that I know I wasn’t going to be able to miss. The problem was, though, that my last journey in the to world of filmmaker Jim Jarmusch was nowhere near as satisfying as I wanted it to be. Could this new genre piece make up for the ‘meh’ that I felt for 2014’s Only Lovers Left Alive?
The Dead Don’t Die tells the story of a zombie invasion that takes place in the fictional town of Centerville, USA. Whilst local cops Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray), Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) and Mindy Morrison (Chloe Sevigny) work to try to find the cause of some initial mystery killings, the rest of the town slowly but surely becomes aware that the cause of the problem is real, actual undead ghouls, apparently risen from their graves due to a shift in the Earth’s rotation.
A campy, silly premise like this certainly sounds like it has the potential to be fun, but then you have to remember whose film this is. Writer/director Jim Jarmusch has a penchant for making things so deadpan and counter reactive that, in my opinion, it ends up sucking the life out of everything in a really tedious and self indulgent way. Any traditional pleasure a viewer might take from a dumb zombie movie simply isn’t there, and whilst the aim was clearly to replace this traditional fun with a more wry, satirical edge, the fact is that the film isn’t nearly funny enough on a regular basis to make up for it.