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Zombie movies go back to their classic roots
on 21 November 2011
While there has undoubtedly been a resurgence of the zombie genre in the last decade, there have been a lot of flops that threaten to end this resurgence quicker than a zombie outbreak in a built up area. One franchise that sticks out like a sore thumb is the Resident Evil series, or as I call it "an exercise in showing the director's girlfriend Milla Jovovich in as many over-the-top action shots as possible....plus zombies...at times". Films like this simply do not appeal to me, but then again maybe I'm not the target audience - which is presumably pimply teenagers who can't cope with complex plots and scenes that don't involve explosions every 30 seconds.
Fortunately, The Dead takes a slightly more subtle approach and charts the attempt at survival by two main characters as they trek through a zombie infested Africa. Much of the film focuses on the journey to an airbase - which offers hope of an escape together with the promise of reuniting one of the characters with his son. Throughout this time they must work together to battle the scattered undead as well as the harsh African environment. Realistic issues such as whether they should use the last of their water in their vehicle or as drinking water are typical of the subtle drama that features in this film. As for the zombies themselves, they are the classic "shambling" type seen most commonly in Romero movies, and they create a suitable amount of growing dread as they converge on the two men. As with most successful horror films, it doesn't need buckets of blood to be scary - just seeing a blurred group of zombies in the distance creates a constant feeling of fear and a reminder that the characters cannot risk stopping in any one place for more than a few minutes. The acting is excellent, conveying a hint of emotion without going overboard, and the plot is sound (but perhaps not hugely ambitious). In short, this is a film that goes back to what made zombie movies great in the first place and is all the better for it. Fans of the genre (and horror in general) shouldn't hesitate to purchase.