No genre has been exploited as much in the past ten years as zombie films. From televisionís The Walking Dead to countless films by independent filmmakers with access to their motherís make-up bag, zombie films have consistently saturated an already diluted horror market.
And letís face it Ė fast zombies, slow zombiesÖit doesnít matter. They are not the most interesting of characters. They are barely able to moan and their goal is just to infect others. Ho-hum.
So it was with this lacking desire to engross myself with the stumbling dead that enveloped me when I began viewing Howard J. Ford and Jonathon Fordís 2010 film, The Dead. With an attitude working against a recommendation, the film didnít stand a chance. And yet, by the time I went credits to credits with The Dead, I felt like I had watched something original that had deflected my notions and overcame my foretold bias towards the genreís flaws.
The Dead takes place in Africa where Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) survives a plane crash and begins a search to find a living civilization. Murphy walks the desolate landscape of Africa where bloodied slow moving zombies are scattered throughout the countryside like strategically placed chess pieces. Murphy is armed and able and easily maneuvers around the flesh eating encroachers. It is during Murphyís daily survival that he crosses paths with Sergeant Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei), an African soldier that is grieving the loss of his village to a zombie horde. Murphy and Dembele form a convenient friendship that will have the two travel throughout the African backdrop on separate personal missions of survival. All the while, the increased African zombie population offer little rest and even less peace in their personal odysseys.
Shot on brilliant 35mm film and with a non-reliance on CGI blood and effects, The Dead offered a quiet and realistic view on a bleak and unrelenting world full of undead inhabitants. The Dead goes about its storytelling without a reliance on heavy (or any) dialogue allowing the strong visuals and the audience education on zombie mannerisms and rules to unveil the uncomplicated plot. The make-up effects by Max Van De Banks and the accompanying score by Imran Ahmad are perfect compliments to Freemanís Murphy survival story.
The Dead proves that the zombie genre is anything but deceased. In capable hands, a film full of both horrors and wonders can be infused with flesh eating undeads. And slow moving zombies havenít been so menacingly capable since George Romero filmed in black and white.