7.5 out of 10
Release Date: 1st October 2011 (DVD Premiere)
Director: The Ford Brothers (Never Let Go / The Dead 2 – India)
Cast: Rob Freeman, Prince David Oseia, David Dontoh, Gaal Hama, John Dunton-Downer, Ben Crowe, Julia Scott-Russell, Dan Morgan, Sergho Dak Jen Gustaphe, Jonathan Ford, Howard J Ford and Glenn Salvage
Writer: The Ford Brothers
Trailer: THE DEAD
The Dead – Africa is as good a low-budget film as you’ll find coming out of the UK. This and it’s unrelated (storywise) sequel are the films World War Z promised to be, but really wasn’t. As I watched these in the wrong order (I saw The Dead 2 – India a few weeks ago) much of what was strong about the second film stands true here. Again, the directors get a gritty, raw and very convincing performance from each of their leading men. On this occasion we find American military engineer and plane crash survivor Brian Murphy (ROB FREEMAN – TEN DEAD MEN) and deserting soldier , Daniel (PRINCE DAVID OSEIA) trying to stay one step ahead of sub-equitorial zombie-ism. This time we’re on the African continent in Sierra Leone. Daniel is trying to find his young son who was taken north by an army convoy to ‘safety’.
Enroute, Brian and Daniel relationship is chiefly in place to overcome immediate odds and its rare for them to stop and talk about their differences as the ‘dead’ are relentless. Cynics always say that the ‘shambling’ variety of the zombie would be easy to outrun and outwit. The makers of The Dead films understand this to be a ridiculous notion, not only because they are countless in number, but also because they are very quiet and don’t have a need for sleep or even food. To chow down on the living seems to be a key driver for the walking dead but we’ve never known why they attack. That’s not addressed here, but in a place were food and resources are stretched to begin with, the odds of surviving very long are very slim. Not only do our heroes have to fight zombies, they are in an area where food, drink and eventually shelter is scarce.
Like in its sequel there are some very effective set-pieces. Having survived a plane crash, Murphy is washed ashore onto a beach crawling with the undead. He has limited time to open a crate, that’s washed up with him, which could literally contain anything, to find something to protect himself. The directors, Jonathan and Howard Ford try their hand at acting by playing two very different types of crash survivors to great effect, summing up the desperation of the situation. The fear factor is pretty high considering the zombie sub-genre is now at saturation point. Rob Freeman (who I think is British) has one of the best American accents I’ve ever heard (which makes me think he may actually be a UK-based American) and he makes for a sympathetic, capable and forward-thinking hero. His partner in survival is equally strong and they (and the zombies) carry the weight of the film’s drama. Everybody involved, even down to the smallest of bit-parts do a terrific job. Never once do you think you’re watching a low-budget Britpic. It’s that cinematic. Even the special effects are very good and that’s usually were the lack of a good budget becomes apparent. They look the part and the zombie extras are outstanding. Especially, the sad looking zombie on the dunes near the beginning. The ending is emblematic of the hope bracelet Daniel needs to give to his son, and it’s every bit as bleak as the conclusion to the sequel.
7.5 out of 10 – Bleak, convincing, and rewarding for fans of zomibe horror. With this and its sequel Britpic may have found the pick of the undead litter. Thoroughly recommended to horror fans everywhere. It may even make you fear the shuffling, silent, hungry ones once more… The Ford Brothers take the sub-genre back and thoroughly own it. Amateurs beware. Bring on The Dead 3 – Luton please!
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Rob Freeman: Ten Dead Men
- Jonathan Ford: Offensive (dir), Never Let Go (dir), The Dead 2 – India (dir)
- Howard J Ford: Offensive (dir), Never Let Go (dir), The Dead 2 – India (dir)
- Glenn Salvage: Never Let Go, Footsoldier (voice), Ten Dead Men, Underground (2008), The Silencer, Left For Dead