Having been one of the lucky ones to see the World Premiere of The Dead (by the Ford Brothers) at the 2010 UK FrightFest festival it is my duty to review this little number, a movie I have been dying to see since catching the trailer a few months back.
Filmed on location mostly in the tiny African country of Burkina Faso, the story of The Dead follows two guys – one American military engineer Lt Brian Murphy and a local army Sargent Daniel Dembele – as they team up to help each other get across the country to find family and freedom from the zombie apocalypse. Yes, it’s a road movie folks. This is not a typical siege film, there are no mad scientists doing experiments on corpses, and there is no warring friends and family arguing about the best way to survive. No, this is just two smart, sensible, logical guys traveling several hundreds of miles together backing each other up along the way.
Despite a few debates along the lines of whether they should use their remaining water in a car radiator or keep it for themselves, these guys just get on with the job in hand – traveling as far as they can while still surviving. What was refreshing here is that both these chaps are completely sensible and rational. There is very limited ammo, fuel pumps are sparse to say the least and food comes in the form of wild chickens that have to be caught and cooked. Are you hungry? Dare you light a fire to cook your meat, risking the inevitable wave of zombies that will start to hone in on you?
The film also gets across fantastically the sheer terror of a plague of walking dead. There are no houses here to barricade yourself into, no stairs to climb, hell there aren’t even any walls to hide behind. Just trees, bushes and wide open plains. The Dead are always out there, always approaching, never tiring. How can you survive several days in this situation without the need to stop to sleep, drink or eat? If you stop the Zombies will still just keep on coming. And wow, do they come! A cast of hundreds of zombies, sometimes just individuals out in the background distance, sometimes in small groups, but they are always there every step of the journey.
What we have here is a movie straight out of the glory days of Fulci era 70s zombie movies. Ultra-slow moving creatures, beautiful scenery and some great sound effects. And not forgetting the gore, which – although involving some CGI – is used sparing and very effectively.
It’s a great zombie movie, and it’s refreshing to see one so realistically put together. Sure, it’s walking corpses, but everything else in there is totally believable. “Why don’t they just walk away? they’re only slow zombies” is a standard quote I’ve been known to hear about this genre. Well here that happens. Why waste ammo when you can just walk right past a lone shambling zombie? However that is only smart if it’s just one or two. If there are a dozen baring down on you then you’d start shooting.
If there is a criticism of this movie it’s that the pacing is so slow it does seem to drag at times. I’m sure this is an intentional decision on the part of the filmmakers but to shave 20 minutes out of this would have improved the attention span no end. Also the ending itself is not entirely satisfying, and has some downright daft moments too. But then this movie is all about the journey, not the destination.
Gore Score B-
Norks Score F
Originality Score C
Overall Score B