Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Dead (2010)

Fear 3/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 2/5

There's a reason why I don't watch many zombie films: there's a glut of them and most are pretty mediocre. That's not to say I'm completely against the atrophied, feet shuffling, minions of the undead. There just hasn't been a whole lot to get excited about in recent years with regards to the sub-genre (outside of a little show called The Walking Dead). Enter The Dead, a film that promises to offer more and thoroughly deliver on that promise. While it contains some of the best cinematography and effects to ever grace a horror film, sadly, it's plagued by extremely thin characterizations. The film is also much too drawn out and repetitive.

Our film focuses much of its attention on a U.S. Air Force engineer and lieutenant who's involved with a peace keeping mission of sorts. He's also the sole survivor of recent airplane crash. You see, the plane along with the crew were trying to get the holy hell out of dodge when they came under the attack of a man who'd been bitten by, of course, a zombie. In the ensuing chaos, the plane lost control and crashed just off the coast of Africa.

Making his way back to shore after the crash, our lieutenant comes face to face with many a rotting limb-ed creature, fighting his way through and finding some arms and ammunition from dead soldiers and the cargo that had been jettisoned during the crash. It's in this initial encounter with the undead that we see just how incredible the makeup and practical effects are and it sets the stage for what we'll experience throughout. The 'look' of the zombies is nailed to perfection and they're some of the better ones to grace the home theater screen in recent memory.

Continuing on and then coming upon a ravaged village, he finds an old truck which he rigs and uses to make his way across the African desert. His destination isn't clear at first but it takes shape once he comes into contact with an African soldier. The background of the soldier isn't revealed (with regards to what side he sits on in this worn torn region) but his purpose is singular: to get to a ompound where his young son was supposedly taken to. From here on out our story repeats and repeats itself again as our two men stop to check out various locales along the way, first to explore an abandoned house and then a deserted outpost before eventually making their way to the place where the son is being safeguarded. As you can imagine, at each stop they run into an undead threat, have to fend it off, and quickly jump into their vehicle and head back out.

It is in these moments of traveling from one destination to the next where the film could have really benefited from giving the characters more depth. Some internal monologue or a prolonged conversation between the two men would have worked wonders. Something, anything that would reveal how they were feeling or what sense they were trying to make of the whole situation. There were some flashbacks about the life the lieutenant was hoping to get back to at home but outside of that, we don't know much more about these men or how the events were affecting their mental state.

Still, the film is worth a watch and if you are needing a zombie flick fix, you could do a lot worse. It's just not one that I'd revisit anytime soon despite its technical achievements which are truly incredible. I really wish there was more depth of character here and not so much of a repetitious nature to the proceedings.

Cortez the Killer


Strange Kid said...

Great review, Cortez.

After having seen it three times now, I agree that the paper thin narrative becomes repetitive. I do have to say that, stylistically, this one has the most in common with Romero's original trilogy since Day of the Dead - wouldn't you agree?

MarkusWelby1 said...

I very much enjoy the walking dead myself. I've been curious about this one, but I wish they could have come up with a more creative title. At least the film sounds decent.

Planet of Terror said...

@Strange Kid, Gracias Senor!

I completely agree. I wish more filmmakers who make zombie films would realize the importance of set and location. In my humble opinion, it's absolutely vital and essential for a successful production. Even though it didn't offer much on a more cerebral level, there is no denying the amazing technical achievements here.

The film also calls to mind 70's zombie features like Zombie Holocaust and Zombie.

@Markus, its definitely worth watch. The title is pretty blah. Why do most zombie films have to reference the words 'zombie' or 'dead'?

StraightToVideo said...

I watched this as Seattle's Crypticon last year. The cinematography and atmosphere was amazing..but the movie did drag. I was a little disappointed because conceptually astounding. Better than a lot of what is being put out these days.

James said...

The Dead was one of the most authentic and creepy zombie flicks I've seen in years... thumbs up for a thoroughly entertaining horror

MIke said...

AWESOME blog man. I have been looking for a "real" horror blog that covers legitimately hardcore indie horror films forever. So sick of the droves that rank Scream 4 as one of the top horror movies of 2011.

Anyways keep up the great work.

Planet of Terror said...

Mike, thank you kindly and thanks for checking us out.

Anonymous said...

This movie was awesome!!! (although agreed, it is extremly repetitive)