So, The Dead… while I’m not saying it wasn’t worth the seven dollar price tag, wait that’s exactly what I’m about to say. It’s a widely known fact that I love cheap horror films, especially when they are in the ever popular zombie sub-genre. The Dead, well sucked. Mark L. Miller of Ain’t It Cool News called it “The best zombie movie of the year”, at least according to the cover. As I can’t call him up and ask about this quote, I’m choosing to believe it’s on the up and up and he truly believes that. But here’s a short list of just the zombie films I’ve personally seen that happened to be released in 2010 that I feel are superior in just about every facet. The Survival of the Dead, Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Crazies and even The Horde. I’m also not saying this film is without its merits, it just doesn’t have many.
The Dead opens with Lieutenant Brain Murphy (Rob Freeman) wandering the north African desert killing zombies and presumably dying of thirst. The film then cuts back an unknown measure of time to the last evacuation flight leaving Zombie infested Africa. Needless to say the plane crashes and Murphy is the sole survivor. After he washes up on a zombie covered beach, but manages to scrounge up some supplies and escape the beach. Murphy makes his way inland and finds a deserted village. The village having fallen under zombie attack and evacuated. While trying to repair a car Murphy is attacked by a small zombie horde, but is saved by Sergeant Daniel Dembele (Prince David Oseia), who had returned to his home village to find his wife and son. Dembele had learned from his dying wife that his son escaped to the north with soldiers when the village fell under attack. The pair make their way north each for the same reason, Murphy hopes to find transportation home to find his family and Dembele hopes to find his son. The duo makes for the military base where Dembele believes his son is over two hundred miles to north through the zombie infested country.
Rather than list the litany of things I found this film lacking I will instead choose to praise the three things I felt this film had going for it. Which go in this order, Prince David Oseia, the setting and lastly the zombies themselves.
First, Prince David Oseia does deliver a very strong performance and is without a doubt the best part of this film. He did such a good job being the only relate-able and enjoyable character I’m more than slightly tempted to check out the rest of his rather short filmography. If he was the film’s main character rather than the main supporting actor I would hold this film in higher regard as he’s the only memorable thing The Dead has to offer.
Second, the setting. I did enjoy the change-up for the setting for the zombie apocalypse from the suburbs, which is more than a little over played these days to rural Africa. This film drips with the beauty and atmosphere that only Africa can offer. So much so that having an American as the main character felt unneeded and actually held the film back . An all African cast would have been more entertaining and would have helped set this film apart from the over saturated zombie films.
Third and lastly the zombies. While they don’t offer anything new as far as appearance or function. The casting of amputees does add a grisly and haunting effect. In fact it’s the only haunting thing about The Dead as everything else (with the exclusion of Prince David Oseia) is bland and generic. The zombies a very Romero like, slow-moving, head shots kill them and they consume flesh not just brains. They are so similar one could mistake this as a Romero film, except it sucks.
Final thoughts, none that I really wanna put out as it feels like I’m putting the Ford Brothers on blast already. The film did have some major set backs with the main actor Rob Freeman nearly dying of malaria during filming, problems with equipment, along with other setbacks that pushed production from six weeks of shooting to twelve. So there is a good chance that the final product isn’t what the Ford Brothers had envisioned and nearly dying would affect anyone’s acting skills. All that said is The Dead the best zombie film of 2010? Absolutely not, 3/10.