The zombie movie Final Cut is going to face a few problems in finding an audience. For one thing, zombies reached such a saturation point in American culture around a decade ago that it’s hard to sell anyone but the most hardcore horror fans on yet another zombie movie. And for another, it’s really hard to convey how clever, intricate, and ultimately joyous Final Cut is within the confines of a trailer or plot summary. The first teaser trailer for the American release of Final Cut gets at the movie’s goofy, over-the-top tone, but can’t really bring across the full scope of why the movie is so much fun.
Final Cut is a remake of the bloody, silly Japanese zombie movie One Cut of the Dead, but Michel Hazanavicius — director of the Oscar-winner The Artist, and more pertinently here, the enjoyable OSS 117 French spy spoofs — punches up some of the gags and adds new twists. Both movies are essentially Noises Off-style “front of house vs. back of house” stories, showing the audience two different perspectives on the same events.
In the first half of the film, a hapless TV director looking for a big break (and hoping to impress his highly unimpressed adult daughter) agrees to shoot a one-take, live-broadcast zombie movie as a stunt for the launch of a new network. The results play out on screen, with a number of odd hiccups and irregularities that don’t make much sense the first time through.
In the second half, audiences get to see exactly what was going on behind the scenes to explain all the glitches — including an actual zombie breakout that’s only a comparatively minor part of what goes wrong on the film. Final Cut is much more comedy than horror, and meant for people who love movies about moviemaking — but it’s also a pretty human drama about how hard it is to make art by committee, and yet how satisfying it can be when things come together.
All of that comes with a healthy dose of severed limbs and heads, bloody squibs, and a seemingly endless supply of zombie vomit. Final Cut isn’t going to redefine zombies, but it sure makes them enjoyable to watch again, even for jaded audiences who feel like they’ve already seen every zombie trope under the sun.
Final Cut will be in theaters July 14. The movie features Bérénice Bejo (The Artist), Matilda Lutz (Revenge), and Finnegan Oldfield (Corsage). One Cut of the Dead is also a blast, and is currently streaming on Shudder, or can be rented on Amazon, Vudu, and other digital platforms.