Final Cut (Fantasia) Review

PLOT: A director (Romain Duris) making a zombie movie gets more than he bargained for when the real thing shows up.

REVIEW: Final Cut is tough for me to review because to get the most enjoyment out of the film possible, you need to walk into it knowing nothing about the premise. If you’ve seen the movie, it’s a remake of, One Cut of the Dead, you know where I’m going, but if not, I’m going to do something unusual. I’m going to urge you to stop reading this review right now because I can only weigh in on this by digging into SPOILERS. So if you want to stop here, I’ll offer this takeaway. Final Cut is very cheesy and ridiculous for the first half-hour. You may even be tempted to walk out, as you’ll think you’re watching the dumbest zombie movie ever made and that perhaps Oscar-winning director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) has lost his mind. Have patience, as you’ll be richly rewarded as soon as the first act draws to a close.

And now…on to some SPOILERS.

So if you’ve seen One Cut of the Dead, you’ll know that the whole first act is a fake-out. We’re watching a movie within a movie, as Romain Duris’ Remi has been hired to do a one-take zombie movie for a Japanese streaming service. The script they’ve handed him is ridiculous, and they won’t even let him change character names, which is why they all have Japanese names in the first act. Once we see Remi’s terrible zombie flick, we cut back a few weeks to see how Remi got involved with the project, with the second act focused on him trying to put the project together. This means hiring a moody French leading man, Finnegan Oldfield’s Raphaël Barrelle, and dealing with the eccentric Japanese producer (Yoshiko Takehara recreating the role she played in the original film).

This third act, the film’s raison d’etre, follows Remi as he tries to pull off his one-take zombie movie, which is being streamed live and befalls all manner of calamity, forcing him and his wife (Bérénice Bejo) to play the leads themselves. So basically, Final Cut isn’t the horror movie it’s being sold as at all. It’s a very sweet comedy about a rag-tag group of misfits who come together to make something quick, cheap and cheesy, but with a lot of heart. The movie they’re making won’t make Remi’s career, but he at least wants it to be watchable, dammit!

Overall, I enjoyed Final Cut once I got over the shock of the premise. You see, I’ve never actually watched One Cut of the Dead, so I went into this convinced I’d be watching a legit zombie movie, and indeed I almost walked out after the first half hour. I’m glad I stayed as it turned out to be a nice little comedy, with an especially winning lead performance by Romain Duris as the harried director. A massive star in France, this is a tremendous comedic part for him that allows him to chew scenery during the “zombie movie” section but shows a lot of heart in the latter parts of the film. Bejo is also terrific as his wife, a method actress he’s too afraid to cast as she has a habit of getting violent whenever she plays a role.

While this may seem like a departure for Hazanavicius, considering he’s best known in America for The Artist, in France, he’s celebrated for his OSS 117 movies. This feels very much in that spirit. It’s a commercial movie that should be a bit hit in France, and indeed the premise they’ve adapted (very closely, I’ve heard) is a smart one that I could easily see being done in North America too. It’s a fun little flick, and the Fantasia Film Festival audience, most of whom I assume knew the premise, seemed to have a blast with it.

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.