Aidan Knowles’s review published on Letterboxd:
If you can look past its several moments of undeniably heavy handed political metaphor, I think THE DEAD DON’T DIE is a lot smarter than most people have given it credit for. There are certainly multitudes to the symbolism. For instance, the theme of consumerism in the 21st century is omnipresent in the film yet we see not one specifically modern thing that characters/zombies yearn for; even the kids that come in from Cleveland are driving an older car. Everything is old in Centerville. As viewers, our vantage point is certainly through Tom Waits eyes (binoculars)—where we don’t see the appeal of such pervasive consumption. There are more aspects of the film where I think it goes deeper than people gave it credit for but it would take awhile for me to delve into it completely and doing so would give off the impression that the film is super adept at getting these points across—it’s not.
It’s half assed at some points and more than anything feels like some kind of coping mechanism for Jarmusch’s modern anxieties—one where he could fuck around and make a zombie movie with a bunch of cool people and not have to invest himself entirely. That being said, a half assed Jarmusch rehash of Romero is super charming, nonchalant and made me think quite a bit—plus that cast! I kind of dig what Elmes is doing on digital, specifically with lighting—obviously he works much better shooting on film but there are some impressive visuals/uses of location. Definitely worth watching, especially if you already know what to expect because I imagine it threw casual viewers for a loop.
My overarching takeaway is that I totally get why this film is what it is but I really wish we had gotten a purely Jarmusch zombie movie with similar themes. Likely my least favorite of his but I had a good time with it.
Minor spoiler alert: alternate title could be Deadpool Don’t Die because some characters know they’re in a movie (winky, winky)