Monday, 17 October 2011

The Dead - A Serious Slice Of Zombie Horror

I'm a sucker for zombie films (see post - Zombies they Creep me out), from Junk: Shiryô-gari (2000) to Dawn of the Dead and a few effective low budgeters in between including Severed (2005), Devil's Playground (2010) and Autumn (2009). But there's a tonne of DTV tripe that I wont even name. In any case I've been following The Dead's production for a long-time and with the film maker ethos reminiscent of  the makers of Monsters (2010) i.e on location low budget, with a big budget look- here's my thoughts on The Dead...

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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