'The Dead' 2010 Review

The Deadby Michael Sieber, MoreHorror.com

We've seen zombies attacking in small towns, on remote islands and even in shopping malls, but 2010's, The Dead, gives us a new location for a zombie flick, Africa.

The film opens up as a group of people on a plane are fleeing the rising of the dead only to find that the plane wasn't properly fueled in their haste to leave. They crash just off an African coastline and Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Robert Freeman) comes away as the only survivor.

The action cuts to an African village that is under siege by zombies as the military is trying to hunt down the living dead and save the survivors. A young boy escapes and is taken away by the army, and we meet our second main character, Sergeant Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei).

Brian and Daniel's paths eventually cross, and while they come from vastly different cultures, they team up to help each other reach their objective – Brian wants to get home to his family and Daniel wants to find his son. Together, they travel the vast wastelands of Africa's desserts looking for a military base where Daniel believes his son is and Brian hopes to find a plane to get back to America.

One thing that sets this film apart from other zombie flicks is the location. The creators shot most of it in Africa, and the desolate land really adds to the movie's feeling of despair and desperation. It's a harsh, unforgiving landscape made all the more inhospitable by zombies prowling about.

Also different is the pacing. While the opening sequence is chaotic and terrifying, the rest of the film proceeds a bit more slowly, tending to focus more on the journey these two men are taking rather than fighting hordes of zombies. Some reviewers complained that it was too slow, but I found the pace to be just right. The slow moments are suddenly punctuated by action sequences to give you a jolt.

While it's a very unique film, it's not without problems. One issue I had was the lack of character development. With two characters from different cultures and races, I would have liked to have seen more done with that, but the movie never really went there. Also, I thought Daniel's character was more interesting and I would have liked to have seen him as the focus of the movie as opposed to Brian.

There are also a few WTF moments. For example, later in the movie, Brian comes across a woman with a badly wounded leg and a baby. She can't run and she's just minutes away from being surrounded by zombies. She begs Brian to take her child and then shoot her before she can be eaten by the zombies. It's a very tense scene and provides a real dilemma for Brian especially when he knows that he simply can't travel with the baby being on foot. While he does end up shooting the woman, a bus conveniently pulls up and he hands the child off to them, thus resolving all the tension. It was a cheap deus ex machina to end what could have been a pivotal plot point and you're left scratching your head as to why he didn't also get on the bus.

I also found the ending to be a letdown, with the subtext of white man as savior. There's a scene in which Brian finally makes contact with his superiors back in the states, and while I won't give it away, let's just say that it didn't feel like it fit in this movie.

As a first film by Howard and Johnathan Ford, The Dead is a decent effort. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the film is very well produced. If you don't mind the slower than usual pace, it's definitely worth a look.

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