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25 May 2012

The Dead (2010)

I have a quick film review for you... and for a change, this time it's about zombies! Wahay!

Run, Forrest, Run!
The Dead, Anchor Bay 2010

Picture this...

It's deepest darkest Africa. The zombie apocalypse has kicked off and those who can are evacuating via any means possible. We join Lieutenant Brian Murphy as he boards the last flight out of "somewhere" in West Africa. But get this... things don't quite run according to plan; The plane ditches off the coast killing most on board. Of the few that make it ashore, only Murphy has the good fortune to avoid a welcome party of living dead. He soon finds himself on the run and hopelessly lost. If the heat doesn't get him, the zombies surely will! OMG!

I wouldn't go in there if I were you...
The Dead, Anchor Bay 2010

I heard an interview with the director Jonathan Ford on "The Electric Chair" (Midnight Corey's new podcast) where he discussed the making of this film. It sounded like a nightmare. They succumbed to disease, got mugged, the lot. It was a real catalogue of disasters. You can read his account of the making of the film in his book Surviving the Dead. Jonathan came across as a great story-teller in the interview so I've no doubts that this is going to be a compelling read. I'll get it at some point and maybe do you a review.

Meet the locals...
The Dead, Anchor Bay 2010

Unlike a lot of the modern zombie tales, The Dead takes us back to the creeping death of shambling corpses. This is death by a thousand shuffles. I think it works. I felt a real sense of dread and hopelessness. It seemed inevitable that poor old Murphy was going to come a cropper at some point. And does he? You'll have to watch it yourself to find out!

I got a flashback whilst watching this film to the Australian film Walkabout. I guess it was really the whole set-up of the fish-out-of-water disaster, with the star dumped in a hostile environment and left to survive. The scenery is beautiful... but deadly. That's where the similarities end.

I've heard a lot made of the filming, of the art of the shooting. The locations really do make a difference. It does add a charm and beauty that make this film stand out. I enjoyed the film-making, but I'm going to be miserable and say that there were times where I would have appreciated a little more creativity and variety. Some of the situations felt repetitive and I would have liked a bit more depth. I'm being picky! Actually, given the difficulties of the shoot, the end result is amazing. Africa is a beautiful place!

Want white teeth?
The Dead, Anchor Bay 2010

I do have a gripe with this film and I'm struggling to put my finger on it. It's to do with Murphy played by Rob Freeman. It's not really his acting that I have a problem with, or Freeman. This is going to sound strange, but what got me were his perfect teeth. There, I've said it! He just didn't seem real. Given the gritty reality that was being strived for elsewhere, I very much wanted my star to be real - someone who I could relate to a bit better. For the record Rob's teeth are perfect in every way and far better than mine... but I reckon I could have him in an arm-wrestle...

I couldn't beat Prince David Oseia in an arm wrestle! Prince David plays Sergeant Daniel Dembele and he is as much the star of this show as Rob Freeman. The tough Ghanan (I think I've got that right) is a good counter to Freeman. I think that more could have been made of the dynamic, but what is acheived is good. I'm intrigued. Prince David doesn't have a huge back catalogue, but I see that he was in the "I Love Your Husband" trilogy. I bet he was the pool-boy.

Prince David Oseia
The Dead, Anchor Bay 2010

I'm starting to ramble. Let's lock this one down.

I'm not a huge rewatcher of films. I don't have the time and I don't really have the inclination. The last film I just had to watch twice was the fantastic Pontypool. I think I'd like to rewatch The Dead. I don't love this film, but I love a lot of the ideas in the film and the spirit of what was being attempted. Whilst this isn't a perfect delivery, I think that it adds something new to the genre. We don't get that too often these days. I see that a sequel is on the way and I shudder a la Resident Evil. For me the success of this particular film is very much in the inspired choice of location. That alone has got me overlooking all sorts of short-comings. I don't know where the sequel is going to be set.

On the Triple-B I'm going to pick up 6 vials of morphine, but let's not mention that again. Details, details...


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