The Dead [Blu-Ray] Ford Brothers

The Dead [Blu-Ray] Ford Brothers
Quality creature effects and a beautiful landscape can't save this entry into the crowded brain-chomper field from a sub-par script and stilted, stage-y acting. Set in Africa during an unexplained outbreak of the undead, the last evacuation flight of American foreign aid workers crashes just off the coast. One of a trio of survivors, and the only one to make it off the zombie-infested beach, is Air Force engineer Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman). The repetitive journey that follows is peppered with scenes of well-designed, extremely explicit gore, but mostly consists of shots of Murphy driving, fixing his truck, killing a few roamers (these are Romero and Walking Dead-style shuffling flesh-cravers) and driving some more until the truck breaks down again and the cycle renews. Joining him on his mission to find safety is local military man Sgt. Daniel Dembele (Prince David Oseia), who's trying to find his son after returning home to a village littered with the dismembered and half-eaten bodies of his tribe. Because we were shown earlier, and because there's a scene of Dembele being told by his dying mother, which Dembele then explains to Murphy, we know his son escaped with the military to a base in the north. That's one of the main problems with The Dead: repetition, repetition, repetition. Not only are scenes unnecessarily recycled as flashbacks to events that just occurred, but also half the dialogue is pure expository recap. To exacerbate issues, these characters feel like they're on a movie set, reading lines. Granted, there's something amusing about the amateur feel of the performances, including many a bemused smirk on the faces of locals recruited as zombie extras, especially since the practical effects are top-notch and the cinematography has some rather strong moments, with the aid of the stunning African vistas. Frustratingly, substantial notions like one tribal chief's musing that the cannibalisation outbreak is one of Mother Nature's balancing mechanisms for man's consumptive appetites, are left in the wind, while the film's primary point seems to be that as long as there's an altruistic old white guy left to help, hope lives on for poor African children – what cloying hubris. That's the best Howard J. and Jonathan Ford could come up with for a script started in the '80s, according to the feature commentary with the filmmaking brothers, in which they also recount the multitude of hardships faced while shooting on location. An actual mini-documentary on that experience would have been of far more interest than the grainy, brief behind-the-scenes footage and single shitty deleted scene that comprise the rest of the disc's special features. If you've got a boner for classic zombie gore, a great deal of patience and a high tolerance or smirking appreciation for horrible acting, give The Dead a shot, otherwise you might feel like you just spent more than an hour-and-a-half having your brain nibbled at by drooling idiots. (Anchor Bay)