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Jim Jarmusch’s latest film The Dead Don’t Die is certainly not your average zombie flick. While the dead do rise up — eventually taking over a small town known as “Centerville,” along with its inhabitants — the movie looks beyond the rampages of flesh-eating creatures. For example, there’s more laughs than jump scares, and there’s “definitely a political thread woven into it,” Jarmusch told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s New York premiere on Monday.
“It’s not an agitprop political film. It’s a comedy,” he continued. “But there’s a sociopolitical thread woven through.”
There are a number of moments in Dead Don’t Die that seem to bring a certain president to mind — like Steve Buscemi’s character wearing a red “Keep America White Again” hat — and even more subtle allusions to widespread issues, such as climate change.
One of the producers, Carter Logan, described the pic as “not exactly a comedy and not exactly a horror.”
“It’s got a balance of the two that’s uniquely Jim Jarmusch. I think it’s got his own personal sense of humor, which is unique but carries throughout all of his films,” Logan told THR. “There’s something that really screams him, I think, in this sort of understated deadpan type of delivery. And then it employs horror both for laughs and for a few scares, but mostly with a message attached to it.”
However, Jarmusch has no plans to articulate on what exactly that message is.
“I said it with the film,” he explained. “I’ve spent my life trying to learn how to make films to say what I want to say on the screen.”
The cast wasn’t quick to speculate about any statements the movie is trying to make, either — “You’d have to talk to Jim” was mentioned more than once — but instead, they were eager to share stories from the set.
Bill Murray, who plays Centerville’s police chief, was the central figure in most of the tales, whether he was taking Chloe Sevigny and Adam Driver for a joy ride in the movie’s fake cop car or hanging out and listening to music with Austin Butler (who said Murray also bought him fireworks).
“I got to meet some new people, like Selena [Gomez] and Adam,” Murray told THR.
Both Sevigny and Driver play Murray’s fellow police officers, though Driver is responsible for most of the film’s deadpan riffs.
“I thought my part was really funny and then when we started doing it, I realized, ‘Oh, my God, he’s the funny one,'” Murray said.
Dead Don’t Die‘s ensemble cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, Rosie Perez, Luka Sabbat, Caleb Landry Jones and Iggy Pop.
“Each of the castmembers came at their character with a really refreshing humor. And most of all, I think that they really embraced the small town-ness of Centerville in becoming its quintessential inhabitants, whether it’s a hardware store owner, a diner waitress or a comic book nerd who runs a gas station,” Logan said. “They all just really embodied those so completely that it was a real pleasure to have them.”
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