Movie Review: The Dead
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Those who know me well know that I have a passion for zombie films. Maybe passion isn't the best choice of words as it is more like an obsession. Ever since I saw the original Dawn Of The Dead as a 14 year old I have loved all things living dead. Over the years I have built up a decent collection of films from Romero's dead series to films like Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Zombie, Hell Of The Living Dead and many, many more. In fact I could probably fill up this article just listing the films in my collection. So, I consider myself a good judge of what works and what does not work. For the record I attend the old school of thought that zombies should not run. After all they are dead and all messed up. Zombies need to creep along and present a problem when in large numbers. In The Dead (which was filmed back in 2010 by the Ford Brothers) the ghouls creep along at a slow pace and only really present difficulty when you find yourself either frozen by fear or surrounded by hordes of maggot infested corpses. Described as the "first zombie road movie" the film (without giving away too much) revolves around American Air Force Engineer Lieutenant Brian Murphy (played with incredible believability by Rob Freeman) as he attempts to get back to his family after the dead come back to life. While on the last evacuation flight out of war-torn Africa the plane he is on crashes off the coast. Emerging as the lone survivor he struggles against the backdrop of a unforgiving landscape. Can he make it to his family? Will he survive this inhospitable parched landscape? Is it is an outbreak? What caused the death of death? Will I stop asking questions and just get on with the review? That last question is easy enough and certainly a yes response is in order. With a run time of 105 minutes the film has plenty of time to allow the story to unfold. For those of you out there who were raised on older horror films (where a director was allowed to take a leisurely approach to things) you'll appreciate what The Dead has to offer. For those of you though who expect instant gratification and non-stop action then this movie will probably not appeal to you one bit. Usually the younger generation falls into that second slot as they can't stand any sort of drawn out scene in the least. Like the living dead presented before you the movie moves at it's own pace and other than a few moments when you'd like to see more happen it works well. The story is interesting and as the movie unfolds you learn to care about the characters and are heavily invested in what happens to them. That said this is a horror movie so yes there is gore. The special effects are quite good and plenty of zombies get slayed as our friend Brian Murphy looks for a way to see his family again. Having the movie take place against the backdrop of Africa is an interesting idea and even if it is different it really works. Between the landscape issues and the extras hired on to play the ghouls things certainly look the part. You do get a sense of dread as you see them slowly descend upon the scene. While some reviewers have mentioned a lack of exotic animals available (in other words some people wanted to see lions, monkeys and zombies oh my!) I didn't mind the slightest. I can understand how having lions as a threat would be intense and have added that extra punch to the movie. The thing is I also realize the cost associated with adding animals to the mix and that not everything is possible when you are making a movie with your own money. Having read about what the film makers went through to get this movie off the ground (HorrorHound did an article about the making of the film and it wasn't easy filming in Africa to say the least!) I'd say they did a top notch job with the money and resources on hand. This is probably the best new zombie movie I have seen since Zombieland and even that was more comedy/28 Day Later virus than actually creeping corpses. If only more modern zombie movies were this much fun and this good. Why is it so hard to make a movie than isn't completely goofy or full of dollar store disposable characters? If I could get more living dead flicks that were even half as good as The Dead I'd be happy. Instead these days it seems like zombie movies have lost their luster. So, if your a zombie fan like I am and you want to see a new living dead film that does not make you embarrassed for the genre then The Dead should be on your list of films to check out.