Shed of the Dead Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by 7DM Studios
Written and Directed by Drew Cullingham
2019, 86 minutes, Rated TBA
DVD released on 20th May 2019
Spencer Brown as Trevor
Ewan MacIntosh as Graham
Lauren Socha as Bobbi
Brian Blessed as Narrator (voice)
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a nerdy English slacker and his overweight slob best friend battle zombies in a modern day London suburb – dropping pop-culture references everywhere and running into celebrity cameos all over the place. This one, however, is less Shaun of the Dead and more, uh, Shaun of the Shed. The similarities are both unfortunate and ill-advised, ultimately doing Shed of the Dead few favours... at least, at first.
What has been added to the photocopy (beyond the eponymous shed, of course) is a number of shockingly high-profile horror cameos, leaving Michael Berryman, Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley rubbing shoulders with the likes of Brian Blessed, Zombie Women of Satan's Warren Speed (!) and Lauren Socha. It’s the amalgamation of British and American horror sensibilities that fans never knew we even wanted – Kane Hodder as a fuddy-duddy old allotment owner saying things like “cockhead” and “twat” (American pronunciation), and Berryman as a submissive to Emily Booth’s dominatrix.
In addition to the odd horror icon, writer and director Drew Cullingham also adds a mean-spirited streak to Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's well-established template, largely in the form of Lauren Socha’s shrewish Bobby, wife to idiot manchild protagonist Trevor. While a good number of the gags do land and Socha is scene-stealingly funny – even in the presence of genuine horror icons like Hodder and Moseley – it’s an unpleasant, nasty movie that would have starred Danny Dyer had it been made ten years ago.
And while it borrows liberally from the Shaun of the Dead template, it bears more in common with Dyer’s Doghouse, including its rather grotesque misogynistic bent. This cuts both ways though, and if anything, Trevor is portrayed as being worse than his vulgar, horrible wife. He's also a blander presence, and neither Spencer Brown nor pal Ewan MacIntosh manage to imbue the characters with much presence or charisma; certainly not compared with Socha or Emily Blunt. It’s a uniquely British nihilism – just as integral to the country as Shaun of the Dead’s sweetness and warmth; a more extreme version of Cockneys vs Zombies and a more likeable Strippers vs Zombies. This all sits ill-at-ease with the film’s fantasy sequences, in which Trevor imagines himself as a powerful Warhammer/Frank Frazetta-esque warrior, but somehow it comes together by the end, meshing into a dark, not-quite-cohesive whole.
By running with its nastiness and cynicism (and, crucially, Socha) Shed of the Dead does eventually come into its own, emerging as more than just another rip-off; a cruder, cheaper, dirtier alternative with some surprisingly effective tricks up its sleeve. Granted, you’ve seen most of it before, but not quite like this.
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