The Dead Don’t Die, the 2019 zombie comedy, written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, at it’s core is the story of two small town cops, Chief Cliff Robertson ( Bill Murray ) and Ronnie Peterson ( Adam Driver ), fighting against zombies.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Hermit Bob ( Tom Waits ) is in trouble by the cops for potentially stealing a chicken. Cliff and Ronnie investigate, getting shot at but letting it slide. The rascist Farmer Frank Miller ( Steve Buscemi ), owner of the stolen chicken is having coffee at a diner with Hank ( Danny Glover ). He accidentally makes a dark joke ( pun intended ) involving black coffee, while Danny Glover is in his presence. Later at his farm, his cows mysteriously leave his farm, why nobody really knows. My theory is it’s either because of the purple moon glow ( we’ll get to that ) or they somehow know of the upcoming zombie apocalypse and are smart enough to leave.
Delivery guy from Wu-ps Dean ( RZA ) shows up at a gas station, owned by movie buff Bobby ( Caleb Landry Jones ). No real play into the plot there. There’s also a subplot of sorts involving some orphanage kids, that doesn’t really matter to the story in the slightest way possible. Literally ZERO payoff at the end, middle or otherwise. Later, a group of Cleveland hipsters, including Zoe ( Selena Gomez ) shows up, asking for directions. Where Bobby further displays his movie knowledge. Gomez and her friends go to a motel.
Zelda ( Tilda Swinton ), a Scottish, weird, long, blonde haired morgue owner, performs some katana training in some sort knockoff Kill Bill style. Which kind of fits since RZA did some producing for Kill Bill.
During this time, the moon is ommiting a strange purple glow, leaving some to believe the world is going to end. That night, two zombies come out of their graves, one of which is Iggy Pop. They got to the diner and kill the two waitresses and drink all the coffee.
The next day, Cliff gets a call from Hank. She shows up, seeing the dead employees. Mindy and Ronnie showing up later. They all come up with the following theory: They were killed by a wild animal, or several wild animals. Ronnie meanwhile, speculates the deaths were caused by zombies.
Ronnie and Cliff return to the police station. Where a recent murder victim wakes up as a zombie. They shoot it, but instead of blood, a strange black smoke substance comes out of them.
Zelda arrives at the police station, killing a few zombies along the way. Offering in very normal dialogue to hold the fort as the officers go out and save the city? It’s not actually super clear what their motivation is, when they could be in a locked up building, with a half dozen shotguns.
Ronnie, Mindy and Cliff arrive at the motel. Finding a dead Selena Gomez and her friends. Ronnie off-screen decapitates their heads, so they don’t turn. He also steals her The Dead Don’t Die CD. They take off and arrive at a cemetary.
While this is happening, Hank and Bobby barricade themselves against the zombies. They fail. Farmer Frank, after having shot a few zombies with his shotgun from affar is overrun. Also, RZA is now a zombie. Sorry Wu-Tang fans. T
Cliff, Ronnie and Mindy speculate the zombies are drawn to do things that they did when they are still alive. Upon arriving at a graveyard they get trapped by zombies, surrounding the car. Mindy sees her zombie Grandma and leaves, getting eaten. Ronnie then breaks the fourth wall by talking about what goes on in the script. Bill Murray having not gotten a full on. Suddenly, the zombies leave the car alone, as Zelda walks through a horde of zombies, taking away their attention. Then she gets abducted by a flying saucer. That wasn’t in the script. The two go out and gloriously fight to their deaths, noteably zombie Mindy and Danny Glover are here as well. All this goes on as being narrated by Hermit Bob. The End. PS, Hermit Bob actually did kill Steve Buscemi’s chicken.
Overall, This was an OK zombie comedy. By no means as good as say; Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. It does however have it’s share of funny moments and semi-decent action scenes. The characters were mostly all pretty one dimensional, and so were the portrayles. At times the delivery dialogue was very much on the nose or may have been simply poorly written. An alternative title to the film could have been: ‘Pretty Much Everydone Dies, the Movie’. In the end, I’d give this film a 5.5/10.
PS, happy birthday to Mike Colter