The Dead Review
By Rich Cline
Spectacular African landscapes help this uber-grisly zombie movie overcome an obviously low budget as well as an inexperienced cast. And the filmmakers do everything they can to spice it up, even though they never quite break free of the formula.
As the last whites evacuate to Europe, a plane crash leaves one survivor: American engineer Brian (Freeman), who's heading home to his wife and daughter (Richardson and Ford-Brister). Marauding gangs of the undead are causing carnage across West Africa, so Brian teams up with local soldier Daniel (Osei), who's looking for his son (Hama). Heading north through the chaos, they find a village of survivors with a friendly chief (Dontoh) who helps them catch their breath before continuing their search for both Daniel's son and a way out of Africa.
Shooting on 35mm film, the Ford Brothers make the most of the settings and also effectively create action set pieces without expensive effects. The locations in Burkina Faso and Ghana are gorgeous to look at, even if they're crawling with hungry, dead-eyed zombies who are continually getting their faces either mashed or blown off. The make-up effects are gleefully ghastly right from the start, and the way the undead shuffle along silently offers scope for suspense, as well as a few good jolts
On the other hand, the filmmakers tend to rely on gimmicky editing, slow-motion and a very cheesy score to create the various moods. And while the actors do their best, they're not particularly well directed. Only Osei manages to be convincing by underplaying his character's inner pain and outer bravura.
Despite his effective tough-man physicality, Freeman feels a bit panicky from the start, which is probably right for the character but leaves the film lacking a solid point of view.
While the continual string of close-shave escapes start feeling annoyingly contrived, there's a strong driving narrative as these two men endure a series of horrific encounters. At least three incidents could have been cut, which would have helped keep the plot's momentum from dragging badly in the final act. But while we're never much in doubt about where the film is heading, the journey is packed with entertaining, inventive moments.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Saturday 1st October 2011
Distributed by: Global Cinema Distribution
Production compaines: Indelible Productions
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 5
Cast & Crew
Director: Howard J. Ford, Jon Ford
Screenwriter: Howard J. Ford, Jon Ford
Starring: Rob Freeman as Lt. Brian Murphy, Prince David Oseia as Sgt. Daniel Dembele, David Dontoh as The Chief, Ben Crowe as Mercenary Leader, Glenn Salvage as Mercenary, Dan Morgan as James, Julia Scott-Russell as James' Fiance