Final Cut review: Japanese cult classic gets “an amiable zom-com remake”

The last time Cannes Film Festival kicked off with a zombie comedy in 2019, the result was Jim Jarmusch’s laconic, all-star shambler The Dead Don’t Die. This year, the returning festival’s opening salvo is Final Cut, an equally amiable zom-com that remakes – almost beat-for-beat – Shin’ichirô Ueda’s cult crowdpleaser One Cut Of The Dead, with inevitable diminishing returns.

It’s directed by Michel Hazanavicius, the filmmaker behind 2011 Awards darling The Artist, and itself centers on a group of filmmakers making a supposedly low-budget zombie short, only to be attacked by real zombies. Roman Duris stars as the tyrannical director who will happily put his cast in harms way if it adds to the verisimilitude, while Bérénice Bejo is a make-up artist whose Krav Maga skills are deployed with lethal force during the unnatural uprising.

As with Ueda’s original, the film’s opening 30 minutes is a schlocky undead assault filmed in a single, uninterrupted take – a logistically impressive feat of filmmaking, even if the not-so-special effects are deliberately made to look sub-Ed Wood. There are hints that things are amiss – not least the fact that all the characters in this French production have Japanese names – and the film has some inspired surprises up its sleeve, cribbed wholesale from the original, that deserve to be experienced in the moment if you’re fresh to the story.

Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz and Grégory Gadebois in Final Cut.

(Image credit: DDA)

Hazanavicius has form toying with genre – The Artist put a playful twist on the silent era while his OSS 117 spy spoofs are affectionate pastiche – so on paper he’s the ideal filmmaker for Final Cut. His key addition is an additional layer of meta humor that turns Final Cut – in the parlance of Scream (2022) – into a ‘requel’ of the original, even bringing back Yoshiko Takehara’s delightfully upbeat Japanese TV exec as the same character, while a smart running gag involving a diegetic sound mixer continually delivers solid chuckles, even as the same joke is repeated ad nauseam.

Where it falters is the fact that Final Cut is simply too slick, misunderstanding that the ultra-low-budget production values, and the scrappy creativity and camaraderie that emerges to fill this void, is what made the original a breakout charmer. Lighting, set design, even the film’s crisp resolution betray the original production’s whole point. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the film wasn’t slavishly faithful to One Cut Of The Dead. On the remake-o-meter, this is much closer to Gus Van Sant’s Psycho than John Carpenter’s The Thing.

“It’s a Japanese script – they know more than we do about zombies,” exclaims one character in a reflexive moment of critical self-awareness that says more in 12 words than most film critics (us included) will in several hundred. Simply put, Ueda’s film did it better – a fact that Hazanavicius is evidently aware of but, to his credit, he’s  smart enough to know that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


Final Cut does not have a US or UK release date. Stick with Total Film for all the latest coverage from Cannes 2022. 

The Verdict

3

3 out of 5

Final Cut review: Japanese cult classic gets “an amiable zom-com remake”

One of the smartest zom-coms in recent memory gets a faithful French remake, but it’s too well made to convince as the ultra-low budget schlock its aping.

About Fox

Check Also

7 new Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus, Hulu, and Apple TV Plus movies and shows to stream this weekend

As the weekend rolls around once more, we’ve got a brand new batch of fresh …

Leave a Reply