Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Review of The Dead

There's no denying it, we live for the undead; kind of ironic really. So when I heard that there was only one (feature length) zombie film being shown at FrightFest this year I was, to be honest, disappointed. Where's all the flesh-eaters?! But thankfully this one film was one of the greatest zombie films I've seen in a good while. And that film goes by the, rather appropriate, name of The Dead.

What  The Hell Is It About?
According to the FrightFest booklet;

Known in the UK as the new Ridley and Tony Scott because of their similar commercial backgrounds, the Ford Brothers now burst on the high-class scare scene as a fresh force in the horror fantasy arena. In the very near future most of the world has succumbed to a living dead virus. After crashing off the coast of Africa in a plane, Lt. Brian Murphy battles for survival across inhospitable parched terrain in search of a way to get back to his beloved family in America. Saved by local military man Sgt. Daniel Dembele, who is also searching for his son, both men join forces to fight the ever present flesh-eating threat stalking the bush. Starring West African superstar Prince David Osei and Rob Freeman from Saving Private Ryan, The Dead features stunningly shot burnished landscapes, brilliant special make-up and visual effects and terrific dust devil zombies.

 Was It Any Good?

Was it good?! What type of stupid question is that? To call this film anything short of a beautiful masterpiece would be an understatement. The entire film takes place in Africa which instantly brings to mind one thing to all zombie fans. No, not Resident Evil 5, but a return to the roots of the zombie mythos; the Haitian zombies. In fact, I would argue that the whole of this film is a step into the past of the zombie genre. Clearly influenced by the films of Lucio Fulci, particularly prevalent with the extremely slow shamble of the somnambulists. The Ford brothers themselves announced to the FrightFest audience that they are huge fans of his work along with the indisputable king of the undead, Mr. George A. Romero. The very fact that these zombies are slow is quite a breath of fresh air when compared to the zombie trend of the past few years; fast, hectic living dead. As further elaborated upon by the Ford brothers, this again was a conscious effort to build tension and suspense rather than a frantic action zombie ride. This couldn't be more truthful. Whilst it would be completely wrong to suggest that the speedy dead lack the power to scare ([Rec] being an obvious example to demonstrate this), the undead in The Dead possess a terrifyingly bleak and empty feel not seen since Zombie Flesh Eaters.

Whilst the zombies in this film provide a seemingly suffocating amount of suspense, that doesn't mean the Ford brothers have skimped out on the gore. Quite the opposite in fact, there's  plenty of gore to sink your decaying jaws into. From innovative (un)deaths to incredible head shots, gore hounds will not be disappointed. The make-up on the zombies themselves are equally impressive. Perhaps one of the biggest influences over the gore and make-up was not just the Ford brothers love for zombie cinema, but also the circumstances The Dead was filmed in. Shot in such a dangerous and potentially life-threatening domain in which the crew were actually guarded by gunmen, the brothers told the FrightFest crowd that they had seen several rotting corpses during the course of the filming. Even more creepy is the fact that several of the corpses in the film are actually real!

Contrary to this, the film is one of the most beautiful zombie films ever to be made. Full of drop-dead-rise-from-the-grave gorgeous locations, bright colours and glorious cinematography, this is without doubt the best the undead have ever looked. But this film isn't all about the zombies. Oh no. This film is more of a road-movie with zombies in. Centering around two highly engaging and likable character's, Sgt. Daniel and Lt. Brian (who are both incredibly acted), and their journey complete with many ups and downs and challenges. Besides the usual, expected zombie brain bashings, head shots, etc, the film also focuses upon a much more human aspect. The film has deep and powerful scenes that are actually quite moving. A very rare thing in this gut-munching genre we all adore so much.

However, whilst these emotional-driven scenes are very welcome, there are a couple of scenes, which I won't spoil here, that have next to nothing to do with the film's plot, most notably one involving a random woman. The ending is also problemised by this, but I won't go into that since I saw the World Premiere and I would not want to spoil anything. The film, in my opinion, does begin tocrumble and fall apart during the last 15-20 minutes. There are a couple of moments that really defy the film's logic and a rather unneeded and awkward scene (which takes place out of Africa) just doesn't fit at all. But these are still very minor issues.

Overall, this is one heck of a film, let alone being one heck of a zombie film. Easily the best entry into the ever growing genre in the past few years. If Shaun Of The Dead was the UK's answer to zombie comedies, then this is without doubt the UK's answer to straight zombie films. Well worth checking out for all zombie freaks out there and those just looking for a great film.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Been exploring this area for the last fortnight
and I've read rather a large amount of comparable posts to this, however this the easiest to read. Nice and concise, ty.

Also visit my site :: recipe dog biscuits -