Back in 2004, before horror romantic comedies became cliché, Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead offered up hip pop-cultural references, Gen X romantic angst, and personal redemption through hilariously gory violence. It even delivered some social commentary: that humans had already become zombies, living dreary and regimented lives.
That movie's sly digs at the zombification of ordinary life find full expression in The World's End, the final film in the so-called "Cornetto Trilogy" (following Hot Fuzz) from director Wright and co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman and Paddy Considine round out the cast, all playing friends on a pub crawl gone very wrong.
It's best to go into The World's End without knowing the film's key twists, even though the trailers seem to give most of them away. So let's leave the plot description out and note that the Wright-Frost-Pegg world is geeky, cool and tongue-in-cheek, undercutting its characters even as it reaffirms their worldview. And with his rhythmic cutting, his ability to juggle spectacularly choreographed fight scenes even as he allows little human moments or throwaway gags, Wright has the directorial skills to match.
And there's genuine pathos to his aesthetic. The film is insanely funny and exciting, yes. But it's also quite sad. Faced with a world where responsibility and adulthood seem to go hand in hand with denying one's humanity and individuality, The World's End throws up its hands — and then puts up its fists.