The zombie genre is bloated and almost at a boiling point. Personally, I want a return to form. Where are those slow moving piles of rotting flesh that seemed to be everywhere? I am talking about the ones made famous in Romero’s Dead series. The Dead promises to give me the enemies of old and still seem fresh enough to avoid the dreaded fast forward button.
This simply titled feature begins with an evacuation plane crashing and Air Force Engineer Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) being the sole survivor. As he washes up on an African shore something immediately appears to be wrong as what looks to be injured tribes people are shambling toward him. Brian quickly dispatches a few of them and grabs what little gear he can find before moving on to safer grounds.
If the dead were not enough to keep Brian motivated he also has to worry about the scorching desert heat and formidable terrain. In his travels to find a way home he befriends Sergeant Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei) who just watched his village be torn apart by the living dead. The two team-up and try and survive until they can find a means of escape.
Kudos to utilizing the slow moving zombies. Our nasty little rotting friends are so much more menacing as they seem to be in every scene, not allowing our boys much time to think or react. You really can feel the fear that these slow lumbering monsters provide.
The bleak and unforgiving desert is a perfect setting to provide a little fresh air for this genre. The bright sunlight, obvious heat, and feeling of desolation do a great job of making this feel bigger than just another zombie flick.
It seems Brian would be quite good at playing a lottery and winning his ass off. Time and time again he narrowly misses being bitten or infected. This could be just me but after a while I felt as if all the close calls were a bit much. Just let him be bitten already!
This one has to go to the acting or lack there of. At times Brian seems so numb and lifeless I feel he may have been better cast as a zombie. Some of his facial expressions are so lacking that the dialog only makes things more confusing. I get that an event like the dead coming back to life may make some a little numb, and if that is the case this is plain overkill.
The jarring and poor acting doesn’t just fall on Brian though as Sgt. Daniel also seems to suffer from the same sickness that kept our lead character from decent acting. If there were any less emotion in the dialog or acting this could easily be a Syfy Channel feature.
Most film’s scores are overlooked because they tend to support a scene or action as we watch it. In the case of The Dead it seems to have almost no score. This can be a good thing, but here the emptiness and desolation are already achieved through what we see. To have almost no score seems lacking and/or lazy. At times this lack actually helped to take away from the punch or impact of what I was seeing.
The Dead is not the best and far enough from being the worst. This movie is an interesting watch if you can look past the issues mentioned above.
Take a Drink: anytime you notice the lack of score.
Chug a Beer: every time you cringe due to a jutting bone or nasty laceration.
Sip a Mixer: each time a piece of balsa wood seems more life-like than our two leading men.