Features and Columns · Movies

Why ‘One Cut of the Dead’ Is a Bloody Love Letter to Low Budget Cinema

Pom!
One Cut Of The Dead Group Shot
Shudder
By  · Published on April 22nd, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that takes a look at the low budget love letter to indie filmmaking, One Cut of the Dead.


It’s impossible to really dig into what makes One Cut of the Dead so great without giving up its big secret. As you may have heard from the trusted horror confidant in your life, Ueda Shin’ichirô 2017 zombie comedy is one of those films where you have to “stick it out” to get a sense of what makes it great. And not knowing the specifics of that trick isn’t something I intend to deny anyone. So consider this your first and final warning: spoilers ahead.

One Cut of the Dead begins with a 37-minute single take that is sure to test the patience of even the most forgiving horror fan. I, for one, have been known to excuse all manner of low-budget chicanery, from horrendous ADR to “bless your heart” special effects. But when I booted up this critically-acclaimed indie darling, I can’t say a clunky, amateurish long take was what I was expecting. It’s only deep into the oner that you start to get hints that something else is afoot, with mistakes and choices that seem to hide something larger taking place off-screen.

Soon enough (and by “soon” I mean, roughly 40 minutes later), we’re let in on One Cut of the Dead‘s secret. In the second half of the film, we’re shown why and how the film-within-the-film was created. Simultaneously a comedy of errors and a humorous ode to the tenacity and perseverance of low-budget filmmaking, One Cut of the Dead is both a love letter and a technical exercise that only reveals its brilliance to the patient viewer.

The show must go on. And sometimes that show has to contend with mistakes, happy accidents, and everything in between.

Watch “One Cut Of The Dead – The Tenacity Of Low Budget Filmmaking”:


Who made this?

This video essay on how One Cut of the Dead celebrates the spirit of indie filmmaking is by You Have Been Watching Films. United Kingdom-based writer Oliver Bagshaw produces the channel, creating video essays on an assortment of movies, from cult to classic strains of cinema history. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).