Sunday, May 6, 2012
The Dead (2010)
How much more popular could zombies be right now? They've been in film for decades but now they've taken over comic books, TV, board games and whatever else you can think of. They're being played to death (pun absolutely intended) and the quality is suffering... and has been for quite some time. Honestly I still love zombie movies, but good God does this trend need to end. It is still a good feeling when a new movie comes out that doesn't totally suck.
Military engineer Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) survives a plane crash which happens to be the last evacuation flight out of the region of West Africa that has become overrun rather quickly with the walking dead. Murphy scavenges for supplies from dead soldiers to at least have a chance to get off of the beach he washed up on. As he escapes he runs until he comes across an abandoned village where he finds an old truck that was in the middle of being repaired. He quickly fixes it up and makes his escape, to where we don't know. As he drives he encounters more zombies and fights them off. Soon after he meets an African soldier who has left his post in order to look for his son. Murphy and Daniel decide to team up to help each other reach their goals and survive. The rest of the movie is a lot of driving around from place to place and fighting zombies until Murphy reaches his destination and finds out the severity of the situation.
THE DEAD was filmed in 2010 by Howard and Jonathan Ford on location in West Africa and partially in the Ford's home turf of the UK. The brothers put together a very competent movie with a few striking shots that truly are great. Where the duo failed was in the writing. The script is weak at best with the film playing out much more like a video game based around surviving from point A to point B with intermittent action to keep the player satisfied. A tighter script with a more defined agenda would have been able to trim the 105 minute runtime down so it doesn't drag towards the end. The acting is hit or miss. At times Rob Freeman shines in the lead role but he just as soon follows it up and feels like a soap opera actor is delivering the lines. Prince David Oseia who co-stars as Daniel is pretty good all the way through. The rest of the cast are bit players for the most part but none of them stand out in my mind for being bad. The special effects are ever important in films such as this and I have to say even when they are noticeably CGI they don't look bad at all.
The thing that really sets THE DEAD apart from other zombie movies is it's setting. The African desert is something entirely different from the malls, cities and farm houses we've come to familiarize with zombie movies. The sad part is that the landscape is sadly underutilized. This is Africa we're talking about. Where are the lions? Where are the elephants? Where are the snakes? Where is any wildlife at all??? The only animals we see throughout the movie are chickens in various villages. The film is very one-note for it's duration. The only real threat that the characters are faced with are the zombies. The heat and dehydration are mentioned but only in passing. A run in with some of the wildlife would have added a nice touch and sense of danger that is definitely very apparent within Africa.
THE DEAD is like the gifted trouble maker in a classroom. The kid that can dick around all year and still pass the class because he's smart enough but never put the effort in to really excel. This could have been a truly great horror movie with a few tweaks. As it is, it will be an entertaining albeit disappointing zombie romp through the African desert that leaves us saying "you were so close".