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The Dead – 6

Director – Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford

Cast – Rob Freeman, Prince David Oseia, David Dontoh

Release Year – 2010

Reviewed by John of the Dead

The Dead received a lot of hype on the road to its debut in 2010, serving as the first zombie effort filmed in Africa, and one that apparently provided a similar feel to the original Dawn of the Dead. Soon after its debut the mediocre reviews began pouring it, which is why I took my time getting to this one. I was excited for it nonetheless, but after viewing this piece I must agree with my horror brothers/sisters that despite some good ideas this is one effort that lost much potential and was just OK in the end.

When his evacuation flight from war-savaged Africa crash lands off the coast, Air Force engineer Lt. Brian Murphy must use wits and courage to find his way back home from a country suffering a horrific plague where the dead are returning to life to consume the living.

Right off the back I will say that this flick does deserve some of the good buzz it was receiving early on. It really does “feel” like an older zombie film, partly due to the low budget and also as a result of the the Ford brothers’ execution. I really enjoyed the idea of setting the story in Africa as it provided a unique background never used in well-distributed zombie films. In addition to this, I also took joy in the thought of the irony that human life is thought to have begun in Africa, and the zombie outbreak proves that human life will begin its demise in Africa. This notion is never brought up in the film, but I still found it a cool idea nonetheless. It does not take long for the story to kick into high gear, with the zombie outbreak already present at the time the opening credits roll and we follow Lt. Murphy struggling to free himself from the plane crash that ultimately left him the lone survivor of his emergency aid battalion. The story does move slow despite giving us lots of zombie action, and I found no faults in this thanks to the high levels of conflict going on. For starters, Lt. Murphy is in Africa for humanitarian reasons, and then finds himself the one who needs help if he wishes to leave the country and be reunited with his family. Eventually another main character is brought in, Sgt. Daniel Dembele, an African soldier who deserted his military unit to search for his son after his home village was taken over by the undead. Sgt. Dembele’s situation adds to the conflict, and despite their differences both soldiers realize they need to help the other out if they want to survive and make it to their families. I really respect this story for giving us more than just zombie carnage but also conflict and drama as well as I have just explained without giving away any major spoilers. Thankfully, the Ford brothers did bring forth A LOT of kills, both of the living and the undead, making for a pretty solid zombie effort story-wise.

The Ford Brothers’ execution is what held the film back from being a really good experience. They have won awards for commercials they have filmed, but I can see why they did not win any notable awards for this piece. I applaud them for their atmosphere and the sets used, which apparently included filming in volatile and dangerous regions of Africa plagued by wars (a great way to match up with the storyline). The scenery is fantastic and it taking place in the deserts of Africa provided a sense of dread for what Lt. Murphy and Sgt. Dembele had to go through without any solid resources of food, water, and ammunition. Of course, there are the zombies, and for the most part I fell the Ford bros did well with them. There was plenty of gore in this piece, live-action gore thankfully, although I did fell that the zombies were able to bite and rip people apart much too easily. We humans are brittle compared to other animalia species, but we aren’t made of jello like the ones in The Dead. While I liked how the zombies were portrayed, slow moving and hungry for human flesh, I took issue with the performances by those portraying the zombies. I felt the poor performances by the zombie actors held the film back enough to keep it from being a great one, which was not the only fault with the Ford bros’ direction but definitely one that stuck out enough to be worth mentioning given it had to do with the most important element of zombie films.

Overall, The Dead is a moderate effort that provides some good zombie action shown in an enjoyable “classic” style, but directing faults kept it back from being a solid overall effort. The story is great and moves very well, providing drama and conflict as well as lots of zombie carnage, in the end making for a flick I recommend for zombie fans willing to forgive a little.

Rating: 6/10

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