Friday, July 14, 2023

Final Cut: Michel Hazanavicius Remakes One Cut of the Dead

Ironically, a zombie apocalypse breaks out while a film crew is shooting a zombie movie. But wait, there’s more—as those who have seen Shinichiro Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead already know. However, this is sort of a remake and also sort of a sequel. Apparently, it all transpires in a universe where One Cut exists, but the production is plagued (so to speak) by similar problems. It isn’t easy directing zombies in Michel Hazanavicius’s Final Cut, which opens today in New York.

This time around Higurashi doesn’t look like a Higurashi, but he is just as deranged. Quite irresponsibly, he has invoked a WWII-era zombie curse to illicit more convincing performances from his beleaguered cast. They too have distinctly Japanese names, despite speaking French. All will be explained eventually.

It is interesting to watch
Final Cut, for the “first time,” while knowing the big twists. It allows fans of One Cut to appreciate the ways Hazanavicius tweaked the material and how he stayed faithful to the spirit of the original film. Reviewing three similar takes on Invisible Guest was probably one too many, but Hazanavicius’s clever in-film references to One Cut help differentiate Final Cut. In some ways, they also make the French remake/sequel/side-film even nuttier.

Romain Duris and Berenice Bejo are terrific as the Higurashi the director and Natsumi the make-up artist. They sort of play against type—and then they don’t—but they both use their winning screen charismas to full effect. Lyes Salem and Jean-Pascal Zadi are also very funny as the producer and composer-sound designer.

Obviously, this is the sort of film that forces reviewers to dance around specifics. Yet, if you know
One Cut of the Dead, it is easy to understand what attracted Hazanavicius’s interest. Frankly, it makes a fitting companion to The Artist. Regardless, he definitely keeps the mayhem snappy.

Thanks to the energetic cast and some sly extra meta-ness,
Final Cut brings enough fresh entertainment to the table to justify its existence as a remake (or whatever). However, a third time would be pushing it—consider it the Invisible Guest rule. Ueda’s film is probably superior, but Final Cut is fun and appealingly peppy. If you haven’t seen the original, it will really charm the pants off you—and if you have, it is still amusing. Highly recommended for fans of zombie movies and films-within-films, Final Cut opens today (7/14) at the Angelika Film Center.