The Dead (2010)

September 23, 2011 - 4:19pm | FrighT MasteR
  Tags: Africa, Dan Morgan, Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford, Rob Freeman, The Dead, walking dead, Zombie Movies

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Howard J. Ford
Rob Freeman, Dan Morgan

After numerous recent genre efforts featuring nimble marathon-running zombies/infected people, The Dead is a very welcomed return to the old school slow-walking zombies. Recent zombie movies had them running about as if they've been doing yoga and working on their posture with Ergohuman furniture. In this film they don't just walk slow, they literally take baby steps to get to their prey, and it surprisingly works quite well. Unfortunately, the movie still suffers from some iffy acting and a lack of strong enough lead characters and engaging story.

Described as the "first zombie road movie," the film revolves around a military engineer named Brian, who's the lone survivor of a plane crash after he and a group of other people attempted to vacate Africa. Now, low on ammo, food, and water, he must make the arduous trek through Africa's dangerous roads and deserts in hopes of finding some sort of safe haven or a way off the continent.

As it was described, The Dead really does work as a survival road movie, especially while its set in the very uncommon backdrop of Africa. As unsafe as the place can be, it's much more treacherous now thanks to the walking dead, which makes our lead's survival more difficult and interesting. For the first 20-or-so minutes there's very little dialogue, as we follow Brian make his way through several unsafe territories. I liked the lack of dialogue since it forces the viewer to focus more on what's going on with the character and situation he's in.

The zombies in the film are pretty simple, yet very effective. Not much makeup is used to create these walking dead, with the exception of a little blood or small wounds, for the most part, the only key distinction are their white-out eyes. As stated earlier, they walk very, very, slow. You could crawl faster than the zombies here, but it really works for the movie. There are several situations where the characters think they're safe from harm's way, then out of nowhere a zombie lunges at them.

It's the fact that they're so slow, and so quiet (they don't groan or make any sounds) that makes them efficient killing machines. Their quiet Ergohuman comfort in killing makes them all the more deadly. These guys will definitely creep up on you, which is even more dangerous at night, when the only light is from the vehicle that the leads have managed to access. There's one particular scene I really enjoyed that displayed just how dangerous traveling in the African dirt roads at night can be, especially when there's so many living dead around. The scene worked so well thanks to how dark the area was, coupled with how disturbing the zombies looked when the lights from the vehicle would shine on them, as it zigzagged its way around them.

The movie does suffer some drawbacks. Aside from its rather slow-pacing, the two leads we follow through most of the flick don't really offer strong enough on-screen presence to really carry the film. On top of that, we know very little about them, which makes it a little hard for the viewer to build a connection and care whether they make it out or not. Another gripe I have would be its lack of an adequate story. I suppose that's to be expected considering its sub-genre, but it's as basic as it gets, offering very little depth and essentially just about a couple guys going from point A to point B. I guess I was just hoping for a little more to it than that.

The Dead is a sigh of relief for the sub-genre, as it makes zombies creepy again by bringing back the old school slow-walking formula that was seemingly forgotten in recent efforts. Sadly, despite that and its great unique setting, the film falls victim to some pacing issues and the lack of strong enough characters or story. Negative aside, those who are into survival road movies or just want a slightly different take on modern zombie films may enjoy this. 

Author Information

FrighT MasteR's picture
FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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