In 2017, a little movie from Japan called One Cut of the Dead arrived on scene and took everyone by surprise. Being a micro-budget movie that was only made as a conclusion to an acting workshop, it received a mere week of theatrical run initially, but reviews were rave and positive word-of-mouth spread quickly. It reached horror fans the world over as an instant classic. Zombies, found footage and the sub-genre of meta movies were all given a fresh look. The actual production history of the movie added charm and an extra layer of meta.
2019 saw the release of a sequel on Japanese television, very descriptively titled One Cut of the Dead Spin-off: In Hollywood. International audiences lack any access to it, but that will change on 31, May 2021 with the film receiving a Blu-Ray release from Third Windows films with their ‘Hollywood Edition’.
One Cut of the Dead Spin-off: In Hollywood opens the same way as its predecessor; a TV-episode. It is a sequel to the TV-episode within the first film as a fun extension to that universe. The final girl of that short, Chigatsu, is now a waitress in Los Angeles and as her luck would have it, the city sees a zombie outbreak.
I must say, the way we view this short is entirely different this time around. We are looking to second guess the corresponding “behind the scenes” part of the film that would follow. For instance, if the camera lingers a few seconds too long, away from the action, it has to be a crew member dropping it!
In the second part of the film, we discover that the crew and production executives have largely remained the same and that their previous effort had been a grand success (just like the film!). However, their budgetary constraints have also remained. We watch as they face a fresh set of challenges and how they overcome them through their already tested creativity.
Setting a film in a foreign location is tricky business. How do you make it feel authentic and not as a caricature of that country? In Hollywood smartly accepts this fact and puts any inaccuracies down to lack of finances and ignorance of the Japanese production team in the movie.
It does have minor drawbacks, however. Some of the hurdles faced by the team don’t feel as natural as in the first film and can seem contrived and the film-with-film formula is no longer as fresh, holding it back from reaching the heights of One Cut of the Dead. Nonetheless, it is enjoyable and the sixty minutes fly by like a breeze.
If you would like to get more of this franchise before the end of May, why don’t you check out One Cut of the Dead Mission: Remote, also a spin-off of One Cut of the Dead and available for free on YouTube.