I’ll level with you. Before I see a film I usually try to avoid reading reviews and watching an excessive number of trailers for fear of it all diluting the experience.
But ahead of going to see One Cut of the Dead I did read one or two early opinions about it, which were all very positive – which is why about thirty minutes in, I felt a little confused and began to wonder if I was watching the same film the reviewers had.
One Cut starts as a pretty standard Japanese zombie film. As a film crew are shooting as a location which was previously used for military testing, things go out of control when a crew member is bitten by an infected stranger. As cast and crew are slowly picked off, the lead characters manage to fight their way through the facility using limited weapons, spilling lots of blood along the way.
After thirty minutes though, the zombie feature draws to a close and we realise that One Cut is actually an amusing film about the making of a film (of the same name) – a mockumentary if you will.
What makes it all the more interesting is the concept behind the making of this fictional flick – the shot zombie movie is to be screened live on a new zombie film channel. In order for the live element to work, it needs to be shot in one continuous take which, as you would imagine with a zombie film, would be a huge challenge.
So it turns out that One Cut is actually more about the entertaining journey of fictional writer/director Takayuki Hamatsu as he struggles to meet the challenge of producing this huge feat on limited time and budget, whilst wrestling with problems at home, technical challenges and troublesome cast members.
One Cut is made all the more entertaining by its dashes of dark humour, references to classic horror films and more generally, its pace and engaging cast.
It didn’t make me laugh out loud and I didn’t jump out of my seat but I did connect with the characters and feel part of their wild journey making (fictional) Japanese television history
Obviously, as the subject matter for this whole meta creation is a zombie flick, there’s also plenty of gore to satisfy the bloodlust for die-hard zombie movie fans.
Although its format is somewhat unusual One Cut is still an enjoyable take on Japanese horror that dares to think outside of the box and deliver something refreshing to audiences.