Shaun of the dead is constructed as a postmodern horror film as it is a combination of two opposing genres- horror and comedy. A postmodernism can be seen as a turning against structuralism and the rigid thinking of the horror genre. Shaun of the dead is a post-modern as it consists of all the elements of a horror film but is in fact is a comedy, Shaun of the dead was written by Edgar Wright and co-written by Simon Pegg, the film is a hybrid romantic, zombie and a comedy, these genre’s contradict each other therefore resulting the film to be seen as a comedy as conventionally these opposing genres are not normally combined with each other.
Shaun of the dead is a contemporary version of a horror film as it still follows codes and conventions of a horror film by consisting blood & gore, zombies and isolation these are all popular iconography of the horror genre. Another way Shaun of the dead contradicts the horror genre and Propp’s character theory is by replacing the lead character of a cool and strong male lead for an average lead who works at an electronic shop with his slacker of a friend which initially adds another element of humour in the film due to not having the characteristics of a typical hero.
At the beginning of the film, we are presented with Shaun which is essentially the ‘lead’ character; he is presented as a zombie which is humorous due to his zombie like behaviour and lifestyle which is also ironic as he is supposed to be the human fighting against the zombies. Another way that Shaun of the dead subverts the horror genre to post-modern is the setting is set in broad day light, this is another way Shaun of the dead challenges the typical codes and conventions of a horror film as most horror films are set during night time as it adds the element of fear of the unknown in the dark and therefore creates a scary ambiance. However the film still follows some conventions of a typical horror film as the main setting is an isolated house; this is a typical setting for a horror film as it is easy for the audience to identify with the victims in the film.
The zombie attack is another comedy factor in the film as the supply of weapons they use are nothing out of the unordinary as they use cutlery and vinyl records, this is uncommon in horror films as the main lead characters in the film normally use more recognised weapons for their defence such as guns and knives which are normally used to show one is in power. Another way Shaun of the dead subverts the structuralism of a horror film is when the zombie attack is taking place, both Shaun and Ed fight against a woman, this is humorous as they are scared of her, this goes against Propp’s character theory as the male lead is recognised as strong both mentally and physically however this is not the case with Shaun and Ed. In addition the seriousness is taken away from the attack against the zombies as both characters start conversating with each other during the attack this is amusing as they are oblivious to their surroundings. Furthermore, after killing the zombies they return inside the house and have tea and cornetto this is another comedy aspect as it shows that the zombies have had no impact on them what so ever whereas if this was a conventional horror film the victims would be more distraught of what has taken place.
The mise-en-scene used for the zombies is not usual for a horror film as the zombies don’t have specific costume, they are dressed in ordinary clothes, this suggest that there isn’t much difference between the life that the humans live in Shaun of the dead and the actual zombies.
Another way this film subverts the structuralist theory is when Shaun’s love interest is introduced, she is not the typical damsel in distress, her characteristic of being blonde, stereotypes her as thick and portrays her as a ‘bimbo’. This shows Propp’s character theory and challenges it as the girl is supposed to be the ‘princess/love interest’ of the hero – Shaun, the theory is challenged as the girl becomes the ‘hero’ this therefore portrays her as the stronger one in the relationship which contradicts Propp’s character theory. This therefore can be classified as Louis Althusser’s theory of interpolation, this is because the average men in society can associate themselves with Shaun and Ed and the strong women can identify themselves with Liz as she adopts more masculine traits. However, towards the end of the film, Shaun adopts the structural role of being the hero as he takes responsibility for once and tries to protect everyone close to him, such as his mother, his best friend Ed and his girlfriend Liz.
On the whole I believe that Shaun of the dead is in fact a postmodern film as it uses traditional characteristics of horror films and challenges them by modernising them by tinting it with humour. Shaun of the dead uses many theories such as Todorov’s narrative theory; this was used to create equilibrium at the start and towards the end disequilibrium, this theory is common in most horror films in order to create a narrative concept. Propp’s character theory was also used, this helped to establish the postmodern ambiance in the film as it challenges the typical character types in horror films overall this added humour in the film as the characters were not adopting their traditional roles. Furthermore, Louis Althusser’s theory of interpolation was also used to help the audience identify with the characters in the film. Overall these theories are all attributes for Shaun of the dead being classified as a postmodern.