The scary (and gory) things on screen may be zombies, but the real monster here is the troll in the director’s chair. Jim Jarmusch and friends (Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, et alia) have a laugh at the audience’s expense with a film that starts off sounding good, looking great and feeling even better before devolving into narrative incoherence, pointless self-consciousness (“Why does this song sound so familiar?” “Because it’s the theme song.”) smug jokeyness (Steve Buscemi in a Make America White Again red hat), and a final speech from Tom Waits that has nothing to do with the horrors at hand. By the end, it’s unclear why Jarmusch bothered to make it at all. And even less clear why anyone else should endure it. It’s just possible that his real target is the very audience that he’s pandering to — that they, as much as the bastards destroying the world by polar fracking, are why Centerville (“A real nice place”) cannot hold. But by the time the leads on screen start discussing how it is they know how things will end, it doesn’t much matter what the target was — just that it was missed. (2019) — Matthew Lickona
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