Shaun of the Dead Scene Analysis

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.21 AMShot 1: The scene starts with a POV shot of the two characters, Shaun and Ed, looking into their backyard. The strange position of the female zombie, hunched over, small in frame, informs the viewer that something is amiss.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.24 AMShot 2: Nick and Ed stare at the girl, bemused, wondering who this strange girl is. The camera pans around them, similarly bemused.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.32 AMShot 3: The camera pans behind the back of the two men. They look at each other, each wondering what is going on. The repeated camera movement makes us feel like we are with them, looking at this strange woman as part of the group.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.50 AMShot 4: They mock her. Their lack of caring regarding the situation is funny because the audience knows that the girl is a zombie. Seeing them react with such uncaring attitudes hints at the surprise upcoming.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.54 AMShot 5: We are looking at the girl with them again, waiting…

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.55 AMShot 6: Nick picks up a rock and tosses it at her, hoping to get a reaction. After the buildup of the previous shots, now will we see that the characters realize that she is a zombie?

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.54 AMShot 7: The rock hits her in the back of the head, but still, nothing happens.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.01 AMShot 8: Still no reaction. This delay in reaction builds up the tension to the character’s discovery.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.03 AMShot 9: The zombie slowly turns around.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.05 AMShot 10: Shaun’s reaction is that of strange intrigue. Now he sees we believe.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.07 AMShot 11: Ed’s reaction is similarly tone-changing. We think they’ve realized what they’re dealing with. The close-up of both shots highlights their facial reactions more than the earlier two shots.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.10 AMShot 12: The woman continues turning. The slow turning, combined with the fast shots builds the anticipation continually.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.12 AMShot 13: Shaun and Ed see the girl.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.14 AMShot 14: Then we see the girl. We see the pale skin and the hollowness in her eyes. The camera moves in closer to her, setting the shot up as a reveal. Now, we reason that Shaun and Ed will realize they’re in trouble.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.18 AMShot 15: Shaun and Ed react with awe and shock. We reason with them about the zombie.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.20 AMShot 16: We cut back to the obvious zombie, now in a close-up, an obvious threat they have not realized yet.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.23 AMShot 17: Instead, Shaun remarks how drunk she is. This gap in their logic is humorous and delays that moment of true realization about the zombies.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.25 AMShot 18: We see the distance between the zombie and them, showing them not in danger yet, but the girl starts to move towards them.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.28 AMShot 19: Shaun and Ed continue to laugh as the zombie moves towards them. As the zombie closes the gap, we expect another moment of panic, of realization, as the danger moves closer and closer.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.30 AMShot 20: The zombie moves closer and closer. Just as the previous shots set up a reveal of the zombie only to have it be met with comedy, these shots again tease a moment of suspense as we wonder with her coming nearer what will happen. As an audience knowing the genre, we know they are in danger, and what the zombie will do, but with Shaun and Ed continuing to disbelieve their predicament, we don’t know what will happen next.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.33 AMShot 21: The camera is handheld, moving haltingly like a zombie, bringing us further into the action. The buildup continues as she moves closer.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.36 AMShot 22: The zombie leaps at Shaun to attack him, nearly right into camera, placing us as Shaun, showing us that now, the men will realize what’s going on.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.38 AMShot 23: Shaun screams at first and then laughs, holding her back. Ed laughs with him. They reason that the girl is coming on to him. This break from genre conventions again provides humor. Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.46 AMShot 24: Shaun begins to notice something strange with the odd behavior of the woman, but he coolly brushes that off along with the rest of the clues.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.47 AMShot 25: The camera tracks up and down as Shaun struggles with the woman and Ed disappears back into the house.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.49 AMShot 26: Another humorous outburst as Ed returns with a camera and snaps a photograph of the couple. This behavior contrary to horror and zombie film conventions continues to elicit laughs.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.50 AMShot 27: Shaun curses out at Ed and calls out for his help.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.53 AMShot 28: Ed pulls the woman off Shaun, amused but annoyed at her.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.54 AMShot 29: The zombie attempts to bite Ed. The quick cutting of the action keeps the momentum driving forward. By shots coming so fast, they are able to move seamlessly with the action.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.56 AMShot 30: Ed pushes the zombie away, calling her a name.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.58 AMShot 31: Shaun reacts with more angst regarding the girl, things changing, but not the degree that the two need to confront her.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.59 AMShot 32: Shaun notices her nametag and calls her out, trying to reason with her. The act of trying to reason with a zombie produces more comedy.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.00 AMShot 33: Shaun again tries to control the situation, handling things with any other person. The gap between them has grown, but the zombie quickly closes it once more, producing more anticipation for another confrontation.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.01 AMShot 34: She’s almost back, Shaun’s reasoning not working.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.02 AMShot 35: Shaun realizes that his reasoning is not working as the gap is being closed. He threatens her not to come any closer.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.04 AMShot 36: Shaun struggles with her once again, but not taking things as lightly as before, no longer amused but annoyed.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.21 AMShot 37: Shaun pushes her back and she stumbles.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.22 AMShot 38: The pair react with horror as the zombie falls on a pole, splitting her in the middle. As an audience we know what will happen next considering she is a zombie, but for Ed and Shaun we laugh with them thinking they’ve murdered someone. This is also the film’s first true instance of gore, creating the first blood and gore laugh.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.24 AMShot 39: A close up reaction of Ed and Shaun’s reaction, Shaun horrified, Ed more awe-inspired and thinking of its coolness, creating another laugh. This also illustrates both of their characters.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.27 AMShot 40: The zombie slowly starts to get back up, pulling the pole out of her stomach. The score highlights the zombie-ness of the whole exchange. The camera pans up with her to reveal…

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.45 AM…the hole in her stomach, with Ed and then Shaun’s faces in the middle. This shot signifies their transportation from the normal world to this new zombie world.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.46 AMShot 41: Shaun and Ed realize now that they are dealing with something seriously wrong in the world. The serious moment lasts just a second. Another moment of comedy ensues as Ed starts to rewind his camera, taken in by the whole thing until Shaun pushes it away.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.53 AMShot 42: The zombie closes the gap again, this time with Shaun and Ed realizing they are in danger.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.55 AMShot 43: Shaun and Ed start to turn around, back away from her as the camera pans to…

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.59 AM…another zombie lurking next to them, moving closer, blood dripping from its mouth.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.50.01 AMShot 44: Shaun and Ed are now realizing that there is a major problem around them. No longer are they naive, but immersed in the world of zombies.

Conclusion: This scene serves to introduce the characters of Shaun and Ed to the zombie apocalypse happening around them, the inciting incident to the main plot of the film. By building up expectation to certain events, the film produces comedy by continually reversing expectations, playing up the naivete of its characters. Only when the characters are faced with the supernatural nature of their situation do they realize something is wrong.

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