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Shin'ichirô Ueda
Takayuki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama, Harumi Shuhama
Shin'ichirô Ueda

Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies.
Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $34.97
Release Date: 6/2/2020

• Go-Pro Version
• Outtakes
• Photo Gallery
• “Pom!” Instructional Video
• DVD Copy


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One Cut of the Dead [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 4, 2020)

Will the zombie genre ever fade? Apparently not any time soon, and 2017’s One Cut of the Dead offers an unusual take on the topic.

Director Takayuki Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) wants to make a zombie movie called One Cut of the Dead. Devoid of much money, he hires an inexpensive cast and crew and stages the production entirely within an abandoned WWII-era plant.

As the production progresses, tensions erupt among those involved. However, a greater problem evolves when actual zombies attack the set.

A movie about the production of a zombie movie that then involves zombies – my head hurts due to all those twists. I can’t decide whether I should view the self-reflective premise as brilliant or idiotic.

Maybe I should go with “brilliantly idiotic”, as that seems like the tone writer/director Shin'ichirô Ueda prefers. Wild and wacky, Cut comes with potential for fun.

Unfortunately, it’s mega-meta cleverness tends to be the cart that drives the horse. Cut seems so focused on all its shifts and twists that it doesn’t manage to give us much real depth or excitement.

Potential spoiler alert: the plot synopsis above really only covers the movie’s first 35 minutes. At that point, it goes even more meta, as Cut turns into a movie about making a movie about making a movie.

This sounds clever on the surface, but in reality it feels like a bait and switch. Essentially, it comes across like we watch a 35-minute movie and then spend an hour with the “making of” feature.

As depicted, this could work, mainly because Cut attempts to offer a witty look at the travails of ultra-low-budget filmmaking. However, that topic has been done to death, and Cut brings nothing fresh to the subject.

The final hour resembles an update on 1999’s Bowfinger but without much of that cult classic’s wit or cleverness. Cut relies mainly on filmmaking tropes and little else.

Like Bowfinger, Cut does attempt to develop its characters, bit it fails to find much personality from them. The comedy of the problems that befall the production remains the main focus, so the characters exist mainly to facilitate those elements.

It just doesn’t work, and I think Cut would’ve fared better if it really just stayed within the more traditional confines of the horror genre. If the movie simply offered the production of a zombie movie that becomes beset by real zombies, it could’ve brought something inviting to the genre.

Since Cut instead aspires more to deliver a parody of filmmaking, it spreads itself too thin and loses impact. Though breezy enough to keep us mildly involved, the end result disappoints.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C/ Bonus C

One Cut of the Dead appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Due to visual choices, this became a tough image to rate.

For the first 35 minutes or so of the movie, it went with semi-weak quality digital video. These scenes came with a fair amount of softness as well as blown-out whites and an ugly mix of greens and reds.

However, the remainder of the film utilized good 4K cameras, so these elements fated much better. Sharpness consistently appeared nice, with only a smidgen of softness to be found.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects came during the final hour of the film, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws also remained absent.

For the 4K-shot hour, colors opted for a subdued tone that leaned natural. The hues lacked vivacity but they seemed well-rendered within the production choices.

Blacks felt largely deep and dense, while shadows showed nice delineation. The intentional ugliness of the first hour knocked this a “B”, but I didn’t mind.

Don’t expect much from the film’s DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack, as it lacked scope. Music demonstrated nice spread to the side and rear channels and that was about it.

For the rest of the movie, the audio remained essentially monaural – and by “essentially”, I mean that I couldn’t detect effects in the side/rear speakers but don’t want to claim the track remained entirely stuck in the front center. Still, it sure felt that way.

Audio quality seemed good, with speech that appeared natural and concise. Music offered nice pep and heft as well.

Effects got less to do than one might expect from a zombie movie, but they remained fairly accurate. This wasn’t a bad track, but its lack of a broad soundscape made it feel out of place for something modern.

As we head to extras, we get a Go-Pro version of Cut. This runs 38 minutes, three seconds and shows the “movie within the movie” shot from a behind the scenes perspective.

Instead of the first-person camerawork, we view everything with the crew in the frame. It becomes an unusual way to watch this portion of the film but it doesn’t seem especially compelling.

A collection of Outtakes goes for four minutes, 37 seconds. This actually consists of nine deleted scenes – or scene snippets, as none of them last long. They’re moderately interesting.

A Photo Gallery presents 12 shots from the film, while Pom! Instructional Video spans 59 seconds and shows a televised piece we see briefly in the film. Both seem like passable additions to the set.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Cut. It lacks the “Go-Pro Version” but comes with the other extras.

With a wacky concept, One Cut of the Dead comes with some clever moments. However, it doesn’t expand much beyond these nutty notions, so it feels like a loose sketch more than a satisfying movie. The Blu-ray comes with erratic but generally good visuals as well as mediocre audio and bonus materials. Cut never develops into more than a mix of comedic beats.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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