Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 British zombie comedy directed by Edgar Wright, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and written by Pegg and Wright. Pegg plays Shaun, a man attempting to get some kind of focus in his life as he deals with his girlfriend, his mother and stepfather. At the same time, he has to cope with an apocalyptic uprising of zombies.
Shaun Riley (Simon Pegg) is a 29-year-old salesman whose life has no direction. His younger colleagues at work show him no respect, has a rocky relationship with his stepfather, Phillip (Bill Nighy), a tense relationship with his housemate, Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), because of Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun’s crude best friend who lives on their couch and deals marijuana, and his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), is unsatisfied with their social life, because it consists primarily of spending every evening at the Winchester, Shaun and Ed’s favourite pub, as well as the fact that they never do anything alone together – Shaun always brings Ed and she has to bring her flatmates, David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis). After a miserable day at his work, Shaun gets stopped on the street by an old friend Yvonne (Jessica Stevenson) who asks him what he and Liz are doing for their anniversary — a question which makes him realise he forgot to book a table at the restaurant he had promised Liz the previous night and on a telephone conversation with her. Faced with this failure on Shaun’s part, Liz decides she has had enough and breaks up with him. Shaun then drowns his sorrows with Ed at the Winchester where Ed convinces Shaun that he may be better off without Liz. The two return home after midnight and spin electro records, only to have Pete confront them, who is suffering a headache after being mugged and bitten by “some crackheads”. Pete berates Shaun and tells him to sort his life out. Shaun, at first angry, slowly lets his (still intoxicated) mind absorb what Pete has told him, and indeed resolves to sort his life out.
The next morning, an apocalyptic uprising of the dead has overwhelmed most of the town, but Shaun is too busy dealing with his relationships and problems and too hungover to notice at first. He and Ed just barely begin to become aware what is happening after watching reports on TV and as zombies attack their house. After fighting back some zombies with weapons from the shed, they decide they need to ensure they are somewhere safe. Shaun and Ed realise that the safest place they know is the Winchester, and they plan to collect Shaun’s mother, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), Phillip, Liz and her flatmates. Shaun discovers that Pete is still in the house and is now a zombie, but he and Ed manage to escape in Pete’s car. After collecting Barbara and Phillip, who is bitten in the process, they switch cars and drive in Phillip’s Jaguar and head to Liz, Dianne and David’s flat, and collect them. Before they make it to the Winchester, Phillip dies of his bite, after he manages to make peace with Shaun. Forced to abandon the car, they set off on foot, bumping into Yvonne and her own band of survivors. Discovering that the path is infested with zombies, they devise a plan to sneak by, but Ed and Shaun get into an argument and the zombies realise they are not dead and approach. David smashes the window while Shaun distracts the zombies. Everyone takes refuge inside the pub, and Shaun joins them after giving the zombies the slip.
After several hours, the zombies return. Ed inadvertently gives away their position when he wins on the fruit machine and the zombies converge on the pub. Shaun discovers that the Winchester rifle above the bar is functional and they use it to fend off the zombies breaking in. However, Barbara reveals a bite wound she picked up along the way and dies to becomes a zombie that is shot by Shaun, David is dismembered by the zombies, and a frantic Dianne unbolts the door to leave and rescue him, exposing Shaun, Liz and Ed to the zombies. Ed prepares a Molotov cocktail to fend them off, but Pete arrives and bites him. He manages to get over the bar and Shaun uses the cocktail to ignite the bar. They escape into the cellar but after finding themselves cornered, they contemplate suicide, but discover a service hatch. Shaun and Liz escape through the hatch as a mortally wounded Ed stays behind with a cigarette and the rifle. Back on the street, as Shaun and Liz prepare to fight the zombies once more, the British Army arrives and they are rescued. Yvonne, who has also survived, shows up and tells Shaun and Liz to follow her. They approach the safety of the trucks, reconciled.
Six months after the outbreak, the situation is under control with all of the uninfected returning to daily life, while the remaining zombies, retaining their instincts, are used as cheap labour and entertainment. Liz and Shaun have moved in together in Shaun’s house, and Shaun is keeping Ed, who is now a zombie, tethered in the shed and playing video games.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this film:
First Published: Jan 11, 2012 – Last Updated: May 3, 2013