The Dead Don’t Die (2019)
★ / ★★★★
Writer-director Jim Jarmusch takes the familiar idea of us being zombies to consumerism—a metaphor introduced in George A. Romero’s classic “Dawn of the Dead”—and does absolutely nothing new with it. What results is “The Dead Don’t Die,” a would-be horror-comedy without excitement or spark of originality—simply a parade of familiar faces like Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, and Danny Glover, just to name a few, squeezing so hard to extract substance from a screenplay devoid of any. Even scenes of the undead coming out of the ground, lumbering about, and eating the flesh of the panicked living have been done much better in other movies—even those with considerably less budget. In the middle of it, I felt depressed, desperately wishing for the self-referential torment to be over, because I knew a filmmaker of Jarmusch’s caliber should be treading new ground instead of barely making a scratch on an overly familiar one. The material is so desperate by the end that at one point a character breaks the fourth wall. We are meant to laugh or be surprised by this—but I was not at all amused. It failed to earn this moment. Sometimes dead is better, according to the tagline of “Pet Sematary,” which is a most fitting admonition to this film.