Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Dead, Rammbock:Berlin Undead and World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2

My horror Halloween zombie round up - The Dead, Berlin Undead and World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2...

(see post - Zombies they Creep me out for the full zombie-monty)

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 (2011)

A surviving band of UK soldiers and civilians try to survive the flesh- eating living dead.

Opening with a creepy don't go out there moment - followed by a shock jump scare World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 is off to a good start despite the laps in logic of the mother holding the camera.

Zombies in the shadows, zombies in night-vision, men in white bio-hazard suits, soldiers on the move going from one death trap from the other. Kevin Gates dialogue is written well but you can't hep feel that the characters wouldn't insist on using the military language under the circumstances. In addition, there's a few lines that feel they've been lifted right of from Saving Private Ryan or the Dawn of the Dead remake.

Like its predecessor most of the performances are naturalistic which adds to the tension and believability. Philip Brodie as Maddox is particularly notable and Alix Wilton stands out as Leeann.

There's Zombie assaults, rape and cleansing kills - it puts the dark side of humanity on display. It's grim. With the shaky camera, POV galore you can't but help think directors Michael Bartlett and Gates should have tried and shoot it in a conventual manner. As one of the characters state, "stop f*cking filming and help me." Bartlett, Gates and cinematographer George Carpenter shine late in the closing when the film switches to the traditional style of filming.

The zombies/ infected are slow and lurking which gives it a foreboding air. This coupled with Pete Renton's melodic subtle score and the sound effects of whistling wind, eerie moans and groans of the dead add to the creepy experience.

Overall, it's worth watching especially if you liked the first.

Rammbock: Berlin Undead (2010)

An everyday man Michael is forced to take refuge with a teenage a boy in a room of a flat in Germany after a viral infection spreads rapidly turning the citizens into crazed zombie-like people.

The title Rammbock probably refers to the battering ram that features briefly in one scene. Spain had REC, France Le Horde and UK 28 Days Later - this is a German take on a virus epidemic in which we see the population of Berlin turn rabid.

There's a crazy old woman that goes nuts within a similar setting as REC. Just as everything seems all to familiar director Marvin Kren throws in a little curve ball, a suicide, a new character or adds a little relationship drama amongst the mayhem to keep things on track.

However, even with it's very short running time there's a too much shaky camera work, this aside the performances and gritty look of the characters feel authentic. Actor Michael Fuith gives a first rate anti- gloss performance which complements the on location shoot. The flats looking down onto one courtyard take a leaf from Hitchcock's very own Rear Window.The music has a dream like melodic quality reminiscent of 28 Days Later and is used sparingly.

When Benjamin Hessler screenplay moves from the one room to another there is some fine suspense created. Although how they repel the infected in closing act is a little anticlimactic - yet it's quickly redeemed by an effective a poignant closing.

Overall, it's grim grey and efficiently made but with the virus angle already feeling worn you may find yourself wanting to see a film with some shambling dead instead.

The Dead (2010)

The dead are returning to life and attacking the living. After surviving a plane crash American Air Force Engineer Lieutenant Brian Murphy teams up with a local army Sgt. Daniel Dembele and they try to stay alive in dead infested war-torn Africa.

The zombie market has been saturated with countless sub-par films. There have been a few welcomed additions- the Dawn of the Dead remake, cross genre Australian film Undead, 28 Days virus flicks, comedies including Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and actioner Le Horde. I personally I like sober zombie films and The Dead is probably the most grounded undead film since Romero's original trilogy. Director and writer team Howard and Jonathan Ford manage to give their zombie offering scope, emotion and anxiety that arguably lacked in Land and Survival of the Dead respectively.

With the competent naturalistic visual style reminiscent of Monsters, less is also more in The Dead's case. Imran Ahmad's music score complements the on screen deeds and while not particularly memorable it is subtle and effective enough.

The African setting is a welcomed change, the on location shoot gives it an eerie real feel. The costume design appears authentic. Dan Rickard's special effects and Max Van De Banks' makeup are first rate, bones sticking out of legs, wounds, bites and the dead getting hit and shot at are executed perfectly. The traditional shambling sluggish dead are creepy enough and retain an air of menace.

Due to the constraints of the story there's little dialogue. That said, what there is rings true and the characters are given time to develop. The acting all round is of a high standard, with fitting performances from both leads Rob Freeman and Prince David Oseia.

My only grumble is that there's been so many zombie films lately it mars the freshness that The Dead delivers. Intentional or unintentional as with Romero's films there is indeed a social commentary running though The Dead and the African setting is debatably no accident. The Dead may lack comradely wordplay but it doesn't try to reinvent the wheel.

Overall, The Dead gives the viewer a much needed solid piece of realistic zombie entertainment. Recommend. 

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