Friday, 22 March 2013

Review - The Dead (2010 - Dir. Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford)

I was quite looking forward to this one. Most of the films in the Year of the Dead season are ones that I've already seen (probably many times) but this was fresh meat. And it was shot in Africa which adds a whole new flavour to the zombie nosh-a-thon. 

Air Force engineer Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) crash lands in war-torn Africa and instantly encounters some overly-friendly locals who look a little bit worse for wear. He legs it sharpish and teams up with Sergeant Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei) who is searching for his son after his village had been trashed by those naughty shamblers. They embark on a road trip through a zombie infested landscape, but sadly they don't blare out any loud pop music from their car. Or wear snakeskin jackets. You can't have everything I suppose.

The zombie infected landscape is one of my main problems with The Dead. Africa is a pretty big place. And zombies tend to converge on villages and towns. So why are there zombies all over the place. Wherever they drive, there they are within about two seconds. The undead freaks are so nicely spread out, that it's as if they've co-ordinated a huge game of British Bulldog to try and catch our two heroes. It's okay at the start for building tension, but it wears really thin by the end and becomes a joke.

The main draw for this film are the stunning vistas. When the camera pulls back to show the landscape in all its glory it's pretty impressive stuff. These shots are the high points of the film. It makes a refreshing change to see zombies in a different location, rather than the usual towns and cities. 

The location actually gives the production a feeling of having a higher budget than it has. But again as time goes on the budget becomes more and more apparent. The script begins to feel like an unconnected series of zombie related incidents. One of the main offenders, where a zombie appears on a rock above Murphy, could have been trimmed to give a leaner running time. The acting isn't the greatest but it doesn't completely wreck the film. Poor acting (and dubbing) actually adds to the appeal of the older offerings in this sub-genre but in a new film, it doesn't have the same appeal

The special effects are pretty nifty with most being done in camera. They are generally convincing, but there is only really one stand-out moment and that's the first zombie that is seen, who happens to have a really gammy twisted leg. Apart from that I can't remember any other effects, and I only watched it last night. Nothing too memorable then.

So, all in all, it's not bad enough to be really disappointing but there are way better zombie experiences to be had if you delve into the annals of film history. I will delve away in future posts...

(Average rating for the season so far = 6)

If you like this you could also try:
Juan of the Dead, Rec.

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