Monday, 19 September 2011

The Dead (2010)

It's been quite some time doing some reviews of my own, this having been my most recent one and first in a year or so, I suppose. Not quite sure where to begin to be honest, but having done small routine work in the past I felt obliged to continue something that I have already established and loved. I came upon this movie after a slight scuffle between me and my own laptop and I had to unfortunately delete half of the good stuff that was in it by accident. I had to fill it up again somehow and this is the first thing that I included as I filled it up with new content.

The things that drew me to this film myself were due to its George Romero-esque synopsis which I am a big fan of, and also partly due to my general love for the horror genre, which has disappointed me for the past ten years or so. If only I could turn back time and return to when I could be scared beyond my wits as a child whose manic and metabolic level were at an all-time high. The closest and last horror movie that I felt could relive my childhood scars still is Jacob's Ladder. But it happened when I am already at an age where my tolerance to jump scares no longer matches to that when I was, say, eight years old.

The Dead is a zombie horror film by The Ford brothers, Howard and Jonathan, and stars Rob Freeman as an unwilling silent protagonist, a flight engineer lieutenant, a sole survivor of the last evacuation flight that went awry, whose character history is quite uninteresting to say the very least, but as it goes you then wonder what it is about him that is deserving of salvation. The other star of the film is Ghanian actor Prince David Osei whose character is about a soldier who left his post in search of his family, which eventually led to the meeting of the two. It's an unusual mix of characters whose cultures are as much diverse as they are as characters. Freeman as Murphy is a do-whatever-it-takes-necessary-type of hero, while Osei as Daniel's sole purpose is to find his son after seeing his village torn to pieces by a zombie infestation the night before. Although the real star of the film is mainly its location. Shot in Burkina Faso and Ghana, it showcases the imagery of the humid nature of Africa and the notorious vastness, undoubtedly wonderful, landscapes, including the scorching desert of the Sahara. It is very reminiscent of a sandbox game by Rockstar, specifically Red Dead Redemption, and the comic series, The Walking Dead.

This is as old school zombie horror as they come. It combines everything what is loved about the genre first established by Romero. The emphasis of survival over action is very much welcome, the going back to the roots (zombies simply being zombies -- slow yet deadly at close range and in packs), and its slow, moody tension that creeps up to you in moments. The pace can be off-putting at times, though it's not farout.

The films begins in medias res and explains how the journey came about. It doesn't go further into detail about its history, although there is a very small explanation somewhere in the middle when Daniel asks about it in a village. This is mostly a journey for survival as they travel war-torn Africa rather than being traditional Manichean. It could be that its biggest fault is that takes itself too seriously at times for its own merit. The mercilessness of its themes are fitting to the overall structure, and at times even schmaltzy. It somehow also made me recall of the controversy surrounding the release of the video game Resident Evil 5 where it is also a zombie story set in Africa, being accused of racism because the main character is Caucasian and almost all, if not all, zombies are also dark-skinned.

Another weak part of the film is its ending. It's bittersweet yet unfulfilling (I would have said grim at first) and also predictable and familiar, and left a gap in plot in its wake. Although what I like best about it overall is it doesn't seem at all cheap. The makeup is very convincing, the gore especially and its realism in entirety.

It wasn't as satisfying as I hoped it would but it is the best of what it is for what it's worth. I'm happy overall, and the experience was slightly above mediocre. I didn't find the need to do something else while watching. It's hard to do that nowadays when your attention span is waning the more a person age. Sometimes I feel like a zombie myself, but looking at the world today, many people already are.

Overall: 3.5/5

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