The Dead Don't Die

Critics Consensus

The Dead Don't Die dabbles with tones and themes to varying degrees of success, but sharp wit and a strong cast make this a zom-com with enough brains to consume.

53%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 231

38%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 1,744
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Movie Info

The greatest zombie cast ever disassembled starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Selena Gomez, Carol Kane, Austin Butler, Luka Sabbat and Tom Waits. Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch.

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Cast

Bill Murray
as Cliff Robertson
Adam Driver
as Ronnie Peterson
Tilda Swinton
as Zelda Winston
Chloë Sevigny
as Mindy Morrison
Steve Buscemi
as Farmer Miller
Danny Glover
as Hank Thompson
Caleb Landry Jones
as Bobby Wiggins
Rosie Perez
as Posie Juarez
Iggy Pop
as Coffee Zombie
Sara Driver
as Coffee Zombie
RZA
as Dean
Carol Kane
as Mallory O'Brien
Tom Waits
as Hermit Bob
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News & Interviews for The Dead Don't Die

Critic Reviews for The Dead Don't Die

All Critics (231) | Top Critics (39)

  • The Dead Don't Die, instead, stomps in like your drunken uncle at a wedding disco and announces that it's here, and that everything's fine because it's going to have a lot of fun at the zombie movie's expense. If only.

    Jul 13, 2019 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Jarmusch loads his genre-tweaking experiment with so many of his A-list friends that it's a gas just hanging out in their company.

    Jun 15, 2019 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • The star-studded ensemble cast-which features numerous Jarmusch veterans, among them Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, and Tom Waits-seems to be having loads of fun, which adds to the ingratiating vibe.

    Jun 14, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The Dead Don't Die is delivered in one long, deadpan note. Some of the sight gags and quips are gold; others are just filler, but still kind of interesting in a wacky sort of way.

    Jun 14, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The Dead Don't Die is a notably sour movie, especially coming from someone like Jarmusch, whose previous work always seemed deeply affectionate about human weirdness, but who in this one basically waves humanity off as deserving its own extinction.

    Jun 14, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The scary (and gory) things on screen may be zombies, but the real monster here is the troll in the director's chair.

    Jun 14, 2019 | Rating: 0/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Dead Don't Die

  • 2d ago
    THE WALKING DEADPAN - My Review of THE DEAD DON'T DIE (3 Stars) Right from the very beginning, writer/director Jim Jarmusch quickly established himself as the voice of deader than deadpan comedy. So what better genre for him to tackle this time out than an all-out zombie flick? Unfortunately, after years and years of undead stories, The Dead Don't Die comes off as an amusing trifle at best, and too little too late at worst. Although patently unmemorable and tonally odd, I had a great time watching it. By assembling a huge cast, most of whom have appeared in his earlier films, Jarmusch gets to coast a little knowing that his actors already understand his style. There's the added bonus of including a young pop star into the mix, causing me to marvel, "Wow, Selena Gomez gets major points for liking Jim Jarmusch films!" Now, despite having very little to do, she can add street cred to her list. In fact, this film is the cinematic embodiment of street cred. In the small American town of Centerville, Police Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) notice a series of strange occurrences, such as watches stopping, the sun not setting, and their local vagrant, Hermit Bob (Tom Waits) starts shooting at them from his lair in the woods. The film's title song, a catchy country ditty by Sturgill Simpson, seems to come on the radio whenever anyone turns it on. Ronnie even refers to it as the theme song for the movie we're watching. These odd events and meta-references can only mean one thing…it's the zombie apocalypse! Soon, the Officers meet up with fellow cop Officer Mindy Morrison (Chloë Sevigny) and investigate an increasing number of gore-filled attacks. Peterson clocks it right away upon seeing two half-eaten corpses. It's the work of zombies, or "ghouls", as he calls them, giving us the best pronunciation of a word in movies in 2019. Into the fray comes Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton), who wields a katana sword on a level with The Bride from Kill Bill and Michonne from The Walking Dead. I'll leave her purpose unspoiled, but once again, Swinton brings her otherworldly talents to a film, and we're all grateful. The film feels like a bunch of set pieces strung together and lacks any real momentum as far as its plot is concerned. What elevates this tried and true material is Jarmusch's deadpan approach to every single moment. Prior zombie films, dating back to George Romero, have already explored the idea that the living, blinded by our own narcissism, our consumer culture, or our stupidity, are the real undead, so Jarmusch really only brings his distinctive style. Luckily, he's great at it, and has Murray and Driver especially well-equipped for the job. They know exactly what movie they're in with every delicious pause and laconic line reading. Much of the fun also comes from the stuffed cast, providing us with Love Boat/Poseidon Adventure flashbacks every time we spot another face like Carol Kane, RZA, Iggy Pop (who already looks like a zombie before all the special effects makeup), Rosie Perez, Steve Buscemi (who has cornered the market on playing distinctive jerks), Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, and my favorite sighting, Eszter Balint, the star of Stranger Than Paradise, as, what else, a sassy waitress named Fern. Another Jarmusch stalwart, Sara Driver, delivers some fantastic body language as a coffee loving, post-punk zombie. I could have done without the frequent references to the fact that the characters know they're in a movie and discuss the process, but I still laughed nonetheless. Sometimes a cheap joke is still funny. Technically, the film feels appropriately low key. Expect more blank stares than bloodshed, and that's the point. His longtime cinematographer, Fred Elmes (Paterson, Broken Flowers), keeps things basic, and gets to make something silly for a change. This film doesn't contain the indelible images he's given us over his great career, but it shows he, and everyone else, can also relax and just give us a fun, dorky movie. Jarmusch, for his part, seems more interested in how humans react to a crumbling society than in any action sequence, which are all fairly modest. He's speaking to the sleeping giant we've become, anesthetized to the overload of trauma we experience on a daily basis anymore. We're all a little dead inside, and if we don't start chopping things off at the head, we'll never survive.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer
  • Jun 16, 2019
    If you're a Jim Jarmusch fan, you can probably stop reading now. I encourage you to continue but I don't know if anything will be of help for you from here on out because, frankly, I don't understand you. Jarmusch is a longtime staple of indie film and I've watched three of his films (Only Lovers Left Alive, Broken Flowers, Ghost Dog) and disliked all three to varying degrees, and that's fine. There are plenty of hallowed names in filmmaking that are just beyond me, like Terrence Malick and Nicolas Refn, but I can at least partially understand what the fans of those auteurs value, an immersive visual, sensory experience at the sacrifice of narrative and coherency. When it comes to Jarmusch, I just don't understand the appeal whatsoever. This is a man who found a way to make vampires crushingly boring, and now he finds a way to do the same with zombies. The Dead Don't Die is the widest release of his career and it might be the worst movie I've seen in a theater all this year. It certainly feels like the longest. In a sleepy small Ohio town, the police force consists of Chief Robertson (Bill Murray), Ronnie (Adam Driver), and Mindy (Chloe Sevigny). They're going about their typical day, warning Hermit Bob (Tom Waits), listening to the alarmist worries of Farmer Frank (Steve Buscemi), and picking up supplies at the hardware store run by Hank (Danny Glover) and Bobby (Caleb Landry Jones). There's a traveling group of students, lead by Zoe (Selena Gomez), as well as a group of kids in a juvenile detention center. Then the dead come back and small-town life will never be the same. Anyone walking in expecting a zany comedy from the premise and cast, not to mention marketing materials, will be sorely disappointed, because what The Dead Don't Die better resembles are the humorless anti-comedies of late-night Adult Swim blocs. It's not so much that there are jokes, it's more the absence of jokes, and somehow that might be the joke? The humor is stuck in one mode throughout the film. A character will slowly say something understated or obvious (Example: "That's not good") and then the reaction of others will be delayed, and then after that nobody will say anything for several painful seconds later. That's about it, folks. It's hard to find humor with that. The deadpan jokes are too obvious and too uniform to really strike any potent comedy targets. The consumer "satire" is brittle to the point of breaking. Various zombies will shamble around and say one-word items of whatever was important to them, ranging from "Coffee," to, "Fashion," to, "Chardonnay." It's like the one-word utterances are the entire joke (Hey, this dead guy liked fishing, isn't that a riot?). It's not satire and it's not funny. How about the characters of Rosie Perez and Tilda Swinton being named Posie Juarez and Zelda Winston? Is that the kind of humor that sounds appealing? How about Tilda Swinton flexing a samurai sword to slice and dice the undead. Is that supposed to be cool? Is it supposed to be funny? Is it supposed to be funny that it's trying to be "cool"? What is anything? Later, the film inserts a new comedy element with meta asides where people seem to know they're in a movie, and yet again the jokes are obvious and uniform, except now it's even lazier, relying upon the meta recognition to simply stand in the place of a joke. If anything can happen in the small town, especially toward its crazy end, then why do these things have to happen? Or better yet why don't better things happen? Because of the deadly pacing it makes every attempted bad joke feel that much more unbearable. This movie is only 105 minutes but it felt so much longer. the pacing not just as a whole but scene-to-scene and even line-to-line from conversations is deadly still. Every moment feels stretched out but it doesn't ever feel like you're going anywhere. Characters will be introduced and given meet-cute moments and little indicators they might be significant players later, and then we'll just find them dead. Other characters will be introduced and then never leave their locations, having no bearing on the larger story. It's rare that I could honestly say there are entire supporting swaths of this movie that could be cut completely and not impact the story at all. It makes the many storylines we hopscotch across feel like they don't matter and are generally wasting our valuable time. Then there's the ending where Jarmusch just instructs Tom Waits to unleash a torrent of narration bemoaning how society deserves whatever downfall it incurs and that we're all just zombies anyway. It's so clumsy and overbearing and unearned after an entire movie where the cultural criticism amounted to a racist saying he doesn't like his coffee black and then pointedly staring at the only black man in the movie. Even if we got more moments like that I might say some of the ending vitriol is justified, but the commentary gets muted in the middle until Waits has to finally tell us what the point is. There are scant political and environmental references but they feel like tossed asides themselves. I don't blame the cast for any of this although I can't say what on the page must have seemed attractive. Murray is always going to be an amiable screen presence and Driver is a fun partner, slipping into a skillful deadpan and straining to find humor where there is precious little. Everyone feels wasted on screen because even if you've never seen these actors before you know, instantly and instinctively, that they have been far better. The Dead Don't Die is further proof that I am not a Jim Jarmusch fan. I can't fathom how someone can actually be a fan of this writer/director. I was tempted to walk out at several points but I held in there. The jokes are too obvious and barely jokes, the pacing is awfully slack, and the whole movie is reprehensibly boring. Even when it has moments of weirdness it finds ways to make it boring. The structure does little to nothing with a large ensemble of very good actors. The movie and premise had potential. The idea of a zombie outbreak in a small town where everybody knows everybody is ripe for comedy and tragedy. Ultimately The Dead Don't Die feels like one egregiously long in-joke that the audience isn't privy to. The joke's on us, folks. Nate's Grade: D
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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