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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Dead: Movie Review

Matt Boiselle Repetition: a word used to describe an act of something being repeated. If you want to take it a step further, you could use the term "ad nauseum", which is an adverb, usually meaning "to a disgusting or ridiculous degree, to the point of nausea." The point I'm trying to make is that if you are a hardcore zombie movie fan such as myself, you have familiarized yourself with these terms as of late to describe the never ending assembly line of stale, stereotyped and generally worn-out movies that have been spit out as of recent.

I had some reservations about watching the 2010 movie The Dead, which was finally released on DVD here in the U.S a few weeks ago, and possibly one of my biggest regrets in hindsight was this past October at the Rock & Shock horror convention in Massachusetts, the production group from the movie was trying to pull people in at their booth to get a sneak peek of the movie and I blew them off. " Okay, another low-budget zombie flick, save me", was my initial thought, and for that I am eternally sorry. The movie, directed by the Ford brothers (Howard & Jonathan) welcomes you in with its sprawling backdrop of Africa, and once you are feeling all warm and sunny, slaps you upside your head with a terrifying shot of one of the creepiest zombies you will see roaming, or shall I say, limping across the desolate wasteland that will soon become a hunting ground for the infected.

While we attempt to recoup our bearings, we are immediately introduced to U.S.A.F Engineer Lt. Brian Murphy, played remarkably well by Rob Freeman. Murphy, who was on the last military evacuation flight out of war-torn Burkina Faso, located in Western Africa, is now attempting to gain some order of where he is after the plane has crashed. Not long after is he facing a series of undead villagers that once before, were living their lives in fear and poverty.
He doesn't appear to convey too much fear in his characterization, just a general sense of survival and "knock em down like bowling pins" mentality. His cause grows a little stronger when he runs into Sgt. Daniel Dembele, an African soldier played stoically by Prince David Oseia, who is searching for his son that he lost touch with shortly after the outbreak. Together they make a nice team, although never really seeming to get along, their chemistry almost seems to work in reverse ( but in a measure of success).

The plot is safe and secure, making it easy to follow, but it is surely the creepiness of the zombies that is such a huge standout in this film. Firstly, their eyes while dead and trance-like, cast a gaze of fear on whatever they may be looking at in their hungry pursuit. Also, their pace is slow and deliberate, and here is where I may lose some "new" zombie fans.... While I have enjoyed the turbo zombies that have sprung up as of late in film, unless there is some kind of unnamed Bruce Jenner or Carl Lewis strain of virus that has leaked, zombies ain't gonna run like track stars !!! I am 6 ft. tall, and a happy 240 lbs. - never been a runner, but would appreciate a good contagion to help my big rear-end run a 40 yard dash in 4 seconds flat. Okay, back to business...its the slowness and almost plodding one-mindedness that will return the die-hard fans back to the days of Night Of The Living Dead, and the original Dawn of the Dead where you got a good hard look at the scare approaching you, as opposed to an Olympic athlete trying to mimic a cheetah, and its slam-bang kill upon the hapless gazelle.

The other gem of this film is the absolutely stunning visuals that are set upon us in Western Africa. The Ford Brothers revealed that shooting in the Burkina Faso region not only proved to be somewhat difficult, but extremely dangerous. There were numerous muggings, threats and health scares, such as Rob Freeman contracting Malaria that delayed filming for many weeks. It is even rumored that a large chunk of the movie budget went to cover bribery and corruption fees just to allow the movie crew around to shoot. Whether the scene took place in the blistering heat of the day, or the near-freezing temps at night, the spooky factor is always present and welcomed wholeheartedly.

If there were to be a negative attached to this film, unfortunately it is the very poor CGI. The zombie head shots and assorted kills come off as very cheesy and unrealistic, but if you can look past that, you have yourself a great movie that is a refreshing breath in a somewhat failing and cookie-cutter subject of horror right now. In addition to this fantastic movie, the Ford Brothers will be releasing a book detailing all of their struggles while making the film, the book: Surviving The Dead, is scheduled to be on sale this March 1st. The final verdict is this: if you want a great midnight movie to get your skin crawling and your heart beating faster, rent this movie, you will not be disappointed.

3.5 out of 4 stars

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