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Movie Review: ‘One Cut Of The Dead’ Gives A Jocular View On Indie Filmmaking

After a string of award-winning short films, One Cut Of The Dead (Japanese Title: Camera wo Tomeru na) is director Shinichiro Ueda’s feature film debut. Having successfully earned 250 times its working budget in the box office, the film has also recently won the Audience Choice at the Singapore International Film Festival 2018 (SGIFF).

The film opens in a run-down, abandoned warehouse where a film crew are making a zombie film. The film’s director (Takayuki Hamatsu) is exasperated with the actress’ (Yuzuki Akiyama) acting skills and even takes it out on the actor (Kazuaki Nagaya).

One Cut of the Dead - Director's Scene

The crew takes a break upon make-up artist Nao’s (Harumi Shuhama) request. It is later revealed that – according to rumours – the filming site is where military experiments for human reanimation took place. As if on cue, the crew gets terrorized by actual zombies! To top it off, the director seems unfazed by the situation and instead, continues to film the crew in the ecstasy of capturing their real-life reactions.

Following a single, continuous 37-minute take of an indie zombie film, One Cut of the Dead then takes a sharp turn from horror to comedy in showing what conspired during the pre-production and production of the film itself.

One Cut Of The Dead - Movie Still 1

The one-take film poses many eyebrow-raising and eye-rolling scenes. Describing these scenes as a flop would well be an overstatement. You may even be tempted to leave the cinema hall, but please don’t or you will be missing out on one of the best Japanese indie movies ever made. To explain any further would be spoiling the film, but rest assured that the movie will tie up loose ends and address the awkward moments in this one-take zombie film.

One Cut Of The Dead - Movie Still 2

While it may be a zombie film, it is essentially a movie about indie filmmaking itself. Split into three parts, the movie consists of the 37-minute take of the zombie film, the pre-production of the film, and the actual production of the film. During the second part of the film, the audience will know more about the different characters on a more personal level, leaving them to cheer on for the crew during the production – all whilst in knots from the hilarious portrayal of filmmaking.

One Cut Of The Dead - Movie Still 3

Although the English subtitles were translated to convey the same meaning that has been conveyed in the film’s audio, it was not translated exactly as what was said in the film. As a result, the significance and impact of certain conversations were lost at certain bits of the film. For instance, when the director’s works were described in Japanese as “fast, cheap, and of average quality”, the English subtitles translated it to “fast, cheap and good” instead. Hence, it was implied to the English audiences that the director was good at his work, when it should have been implied that the director always sought the simplest means. Nonetheless, the English subtitles stayed true to the Japanese audio throughout most of the film.

One Cut Of The Dead - Movie Still 4

What I find extremely commendable in One Cut of the Dead is that all of the cast are newbies who have little or no experience in the acting industry at all! Special mentions go to Takayuki Hamatsu and Harumi Shuhama, who play the roles of the director and make-up artist respectively. They did a praise-worthy job in the portrayal of their characters, which are also crucial in connecting the scenes of the film together.

The cast definitely has an innate talent for acting, especially since they were able to portray their characters to their fullest in this one-of-its-kind film.

Rating: 3.5/5

One Cut Of The Dead is slated to be the opening film for the Japanese Film Festival (JFF) in Singapore, which will be held from 18 January to 10 February 2019. This year, the festival will feature 31 films over the 3 weeks, and in 3 different locations. Additionally, this will also be the first time JFF will feature a section for short films. For more information, visit the official website at

Visuals courtesy of Shaw Theatres

Deepa d/o Chevi Vadivelu

Animal and music lover, bookworm and movie enthusiast. #blackismyhappycolour

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