Also posted at http://www.revenantmagazine.com/)
Well, it’s a bit of an unusual one for me this time. My usual rule for what gets included here is that ‘If it’s a film and I can buy it on DVD then I’ll include it’. Well, for those who don’t know, Dead Set was a short 5 part TV series, which I watched and thoroughly enjoyed. However, as it wasn’t a movie then I felt it wasn’t right to include it. I don’t want to get into the habit of writing up every little zombie event, because there is more than enough to keep me busy in just the DVD market. However, when I found that this series was available to buy on a single DVD, with a full running length of just under 2 and 1/2 hours then I felt I could break the rules and include it here. Besides, when I re-watched it I went for the ‘View All’ option to see each of the 5 episodes back to back, which I guess could count as a movie.
Set in and around the reality TV show ‘Big Brother’, Dead Set follows the events of a mass zombie (or miscellaneous infection) outbreak and it’s effects on the game-show participants. While they start out unaware of the crisis they soon realise something is amiss when Big Brother stops talking to them and the cameras start turning off. When one of the production team breaks into the set covered in blood and being chased by one of the infected they pretty much come to realise that something is happening outside their safe walls, and are somewhat startled by the way the staff member dispatches of her assailant (taking a fire extinguisher and bashing his entire head to smithereens!)
This woman and the remaining housemates who have managed to avoid being eaten assess their situation and decide that remaining in an securely locked house with its own greenhouse and solar power is the best solution to wait out the problem. However, the shows producer has other ideas and manages to find his way into the house himself with the sole intention of getting the keys to a production van and getting the hell outta Dodge.
With an absolutely superb script and top class acting throughout this could easily made it into mainstream cinema. Production, direction, special effects are all of high quality, and it begs the question why a TV drama series can get so much right that hundreds of full theatrical productions fail to manage.
The gore on show here is great, in particular considering it was originally a prime time TV show. Heads are smashed, bodies are dissected in gruesome closeup detail, flesh is ripped from necks, and a handy pot of human flesh is thrown around as ‘bait’.
Sure, not everything is perfect. The zombies are the now ubiquitous running variety from 28 Days Later, and the frenetic camerawork could also have come direct from that movie, but it helps keep the pace of the film flat out.
The overall highlight of the film is the dialogue from the mouth of the shows Producer. I can’t remember a character who had better lines since Jesse Ventura in Predator. He is superb, even though he may as well be Captain Rhodes in a different guise. Awesome. Highly worth finding on DVD, and I hope it makes it outside the UK because it is one of the best British zombie productions for a number of years.
Gore Score B
Norks Score C-
Originality Score C
Overall Score B+