Ambush Bug here. There isn’t a zombie film out there that I don’t want to see more than THE DEAD. Check out this trailer and tell me it doesn’t look like the best zombie film to come along in years. Well, lucky bastard Mangotree got to see a sneak screening the other day and decided to rub it in by writing up this review of it. Enjoy!
And here’s what Mangotree had to say. Beware, here there be spoilers…
Hi the guys, Daily reader and occasional ‘talk backer’. I had the great fortune this evening to watch a special preview screening of a little gem of a zombie film called ‘The Dead’. It’s written and directed by the Ford brothers and has now achieved a theatrical release in the UK, US and other territories. I believe the release date is this September – not sure whether it’s a limited release, but it’s going to be out there, somewhere!
What’s really amazing about this movie, is the incredible story behind it. It was filmed on location in Burkina Faso, Africa and the crew went through hell to get it made. This includes the director being mugged at knife-point on the first day he arrived in Africa, (he was robbed of all money, credit cards and even his hand sanitizer) the lead actor contacting malaria and nearly dying, various bouts of diarrhoea and sickness for cast and crew ( at the screening Q & A, the director joked how he planned scenes in-between vomiting) and constant harassment by the local police/military who needed to be ‘paid off’ frequently. There is more, but I want to talk about the film.
The film begins with the main protagonist fleeing Africa in a cargo plane. Lt Brian Murphy is an American engineer working in Africa who is caught up in the zombie outbreak. We don’t know why it occurs. No explanation is given or needed – very Romero like in the way we are thrown ‘right in there’. To be honest, on a personal level, I can’t stand zombie movies that take up the first act explaining how a ‘virus’ got out, anyway. (Return of the living dead excused).
The plane crashes into the sea (due to not being fully fuelled and prepared we find out later) and he and another soldier survive and scramble to the beach. Zombies start shuffling towards them (these are Romero zombies – they don’t sprint!) and the other soldier panics and runs into the jungle leaving Murphy behind. He opens a washed-up crate, takes out a pistol and some supplies, shoots a few zombies and runs into the jungle himself.
It’s important to say, that this film is a ‘journey’ movie with zombies. It has characters with motives and is beautifully shot with the stunning landscape of Africa as a perfect backdrop. Nothing has been done like this before as far as I am aware.
We then cut to a village which is under attack by the dead – plenty of gore for everyone. Lots of bites and entrails (99% was done without the need for CGI – nearly all practical effects) A mother ushers her son to escape just before she gets eaten and some soldiers flee on the back of a lorry with him on board. The next day, a soldier returns and surveys the carnage. He picks up a picture of the boy who escaped and takes it with him and we later find out this is the boy’s father, Daniel.
The thing that strikes you about this movie is the characters do things that people would do in this situation. If they kill a zombie, they check it for supplies, ammo etc, when Murphy feels tired he climbs a tree and sleeps high up where the dead can’t get to him and so on. Eventually, they manage to trash the truck by veering into a horde of zombies and breaking the axel down an embankment. This happens at night with a scene very ‘Return of the living dead’ like – they put on the lights to reveal zombies en mass. They get out of the situation by abandoning the truck and making a run for it. When they feel safe, they set up a camp fire – Murphy ties a line of string around the perimeter and attaches some tins with stones in them to rattle if the dead come near. Unfortunately, the alarm works, but they are so tired, hungry and thirsty that it doesn’t wake them and Daniel becomes supper. Murphy escapes being bitten and saves Daniel, but as we know, it’s only a matter of time...
I saw this in a little ‘art house’ cinema in Birmingham, England, with about 40 other people. Very comfortable and intimate. After all the cheap and generally crap zombie movies we have had over the last few years, this was a treat. Well acted, well made and well thought out.
If you use this, just call me Mangotree.
Here’s a longer preview thanks to Dread Central.com.