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After crashing off the coast, Lt. Brian Murphy battles for survival across the vast terrains of Africa in search for a way to get back to his beloved family. Joined by local military man Daniel Dembele, who is also searching for his son, both men join forces, all the while battling against the ever-present threat of the living dead!
The Dead is a low-budget but atmospheric and frequently effective zombie survival film that injects a much-needed note of gravitas into the rapidly multiplying but increasingly dreary zombie horror subgenre. Shot in Ghana and Burkina Faso by English television advertising directors/siblings Howard J. and Jonathan Ford, The Dead harks back to the ur-template for zombie pics--George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968)--for both its story and its desire to impart a message along with the plentiful bloodshed. American actor Rob Freeman is top-billed as a US military engineer in South Africa attempting to escape a virus outbreak that reanimates its victims as cannibalistic zombies; when his plane crashes, he's forced to find his way to civilization on foot, with the shuffling, blank-eyed dead hot on his heels. Freeman eventually crosses paths with a soldier (African actor Prince David Oseia) who's gone AWOL to find his missing son. What follows is a slower, more contemplative zombie picture than such hot-wired genre entries as the Dawn of the Dead remake or the Resident Evil franchise; the Ford brothers make excellent use of the alternately forbidden and beautiful African landscape, which offers a striking backdrop for images of the undead slowing but inexorably pursuing their prey. The relaxed pace also allows the Fords to inject notes of political and social concern, especially in regard to Africa's war-torn past (and present) and the ironies of a white man fighting for his life against a black majority. Such elements are presented without much subtlety, which is the downfall of The Dead; in its sincere desire to be a "serious" zombie picture, it tilts the balance away from shocks and thrills towards a heavy-handed earnestness. Where the film succeeds is in its depiction of a world gone over the precipice into apocalypse by a silent, implacable force of destruction that cares little for border issues or racial divide. Such moments should be welcome to horror fans who've had their fill of the video game carbons that have come to represent the zombie picture in the 21st century. The DVD includes commentary by the Ford brothers, who discuss the trials they endured in making The Dead, from contending with local militias to Freeman's battle with malaria; a 14-minute electronic press kit and some minor deleted scenes complete the disc. --Paul Gaita
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Top Customer Reviews
It's is a small budget film, which after a harrowing and crowded opening shifts all the acting to basically two characters. They are Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) and a man he meets on the road, Sgt.Daniel Dembele (Prince David Oseia). Brian is the sole survivor of a plane crash of people trying to escape the zombies. David is a soldier who has left his unit amid the chaos to find his son. The film takes place in the West African country of Burkina Fasso (formerly Upper Volta), where it was actually shot. Burkina Fasso is mostly located in the Sahel, the band of hot and dry but still habitable country that borders the Sahara Desert. The scenery is a big plus for this movie and a total departure from the usual zombie locales. Toward the end it even includes a passage through the great rock escarpment known as the Peaks of Sindou in the west of Burkina Fasso near Mali. It's pretty amazing scenery.
The scenery is not all that's different about this film. The zombies are their own type as well. They're slow, but not the lurching Walking Dead type. They slowly advance with a swaying gait, almost like they're sleepwalking, just fast enough to be menacing. They are totally silent and can creep up on you. There was no budget for Walking Dead type grotesque faces and basically they're just pale. Many are missing limbs and none of that is CGI, but due to wars in the region.It's their numbers that get you. No matter where you go, and this is the wide open spaces of West Africa, they're there. Usually one here and two there and a little group over there, but as the two drive through this arid and desolate region there are always some in the background. You simply cannot get away from them.
The tone of the film is wonderfully serious and very bleak. This is a welcome relief from a kind of campy silliness that has crept into zombie films lately, even films that aren't supposed to be zombie comedies. The action is slow and mostly concerns the two men getting to know and trust each other but there are some memorably gory scenes as well. This was directed by brothers Howard and Jonathan Ford and was shot on 35mm film rather than digitally, giving it a classic film look. It has been so successful that they have made a sequel set in India, Dead 2. If you can take something besides constant attacks and shooting in a zombie film this is one to see.
EXTRA NOTE: Many people online ask why they didn't include a lot of the big animals of Africa in the film. Elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinos, hippos, etc. Those animals are mostly in East and South Africa. This was shot in a part of West Africa where those animals don't exist (Except for a few giraffes near the border of Benin). Here there are crocodiles, some monkeys, antelopes and anteaters but not much else. So don't expect that big scene with the zombies taking down a rhino.
Overall very good, would recommend if you're looking for a decent zombie flick.
Now it was possible to use the genre as what George Romero originally intended - an examination of human character under extreme (and admittedly bizarre) conditions. This movie is a great addition to the genre.
It can also be described as a road trip. Rob Freeman plays an American mechanic stranded somewhere in Africa at the outbreak of the zombie plague. After surviving a plane crash, he manages to scrounge together a working truck. While looking for some means of escape he runs into a soldier who's left his unit to hunt for his son, portrayed in an excellent performance by Prince David Oseia.
Unlike the waves of zombies we're used to seeing, such as in World War Z, the expanse of the African countryside allows our unlikely heroes a luxury of time, comparatively speaking, to assess their situation, respond to new challenges as they arise, and in the process we're treated to an unusually compelling story, slow in parts, but not an in your face, non-stop blood bath.
However, be advised that while few in number, the gory scenes are extremely realistic, some of the most realistic I've seen in a long, long time. Look for the first zombie seen in the movie, struggling along on one good leg, the other so fractured that bones stick out and the leg bends in bizarre ways I haven't seen in the movies before. I still don't know how they did it.
So, I really enjoyed this movie. It moves at a slower pace than most of the genre, but I found that allowed me time to get to know the characters and actually care about them, unlike the swarms of skimpily-clad teens thrown into your average slasher film just to up the body count. Well done, and definitely five star material.
Instead we get turtle-like speed zombies that are absolutely worthless, and in threatening. The movie was more of a drama about a stranded American soldier trying to find a way back home. There were a couple horror elements thrown in when a jump scare happens... Twice! I was very disappointed because this movie had potential. Good thing I only spent $3.99 for it! I was hoping for and expecting a mediocre Zombie flick with enough story to suffice given the genre. I gave it 2 stars because the acting wasn't terrible.