It’s all too easy to be overly critical and forget how incredibly difficult it is to make a feature film. How much time and effort is invested by a whole host of people to make it happen. The venture itself is a mammoth task with so many risks, dependencies and critical success factors that it’s akin to managing a major project. Horror is a genre which attracts a myriad of low-budget pretenders but the majority just don’t cut the mustard. American Movie hilariously documented the challenges faced by aspiring film-makers. One Cut of the Dead goes a step further.
When TV executives commission a new zombie show they decide to approach the cheap and reliable Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) to direct. With little time and less experience, he brings a cast together and starts filming in an old warehouse which is rumoured to be the site of a military experiment. After a series of mishaps, he finds himself in front of the camera along with his wife and make-up artist (Harumi Shuhama). Up against the clock, panic sets in. When the real zombies arrive Higurashi insists that the cameras keep rolling.
The first forty, or so, minutes of One Cut of the Dead make for a bloody, brutal, bizarre and brilliant horror short. What follows is a hilarious and insightful satire on film-making. With a game cast and inspired direction from Shin’ichirô Ueda, One Cut of the Dead has been a surprise box office hit in its native Japan, on a minuscule budget. It’s an ingenious, chaotic and bonkers breath of fresh air in a genre rife with imitations.
One Cut of the Dead is in cinemas from January 4.