While fending off the walking dead, he runs into another man on a mission: Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei), a local soldier who recently deserted his post and returned to his village to check on his family. He found his wife dead and his son missing. Daniel was told his son hitched a ride on a caravan of soldiers headed to a military base in the North. He hitches a ride with Brian, and the two men with family-centric goals team up for their respective safety. They travel through the scorched land, heading north to the military base in hopes of finding safety and any place not teeming with zombies.
The End Result
As such, the script is less a story than a series of zombie attacks and near misses broken up by some gorgeous (and beautifully shot) scenery. It's a road movie-cum-travelogue, a bit like Monsters with more action and gore and fewer 50-foot tentacles. As good as the zombie scenes are, the plot could use more depth, perhaps with the addition of a "living" antagonist -- a prospect hinted at when Daniel mentions that his old regiment would kill for deserting them if they find him -- or perhaps with more pointed sociopolitical commentary. Instead, there are only mild, fleeting political overtones: Daniel comments that the US military bombed the local airport, and the issues that cause the internal warfare in the unnamed African nation are never dealt with, as both sides unite against that common zombie enemy.
That said, the shots of dead bodies strewn across the arid earth strike a chord with viewers used to seeing news reports about a continent plagued for decades by death, destruction and civil war -- so much so that you could easily interpret the zombie plague as the filmmakers' reflection of the ongoing turmoil.
But zombie movie fans are no doubt less concerned about social messages than about the action, and in that area, The Dead scores a direct hit -- right between the eyes (as per standard zombie hunting rules). While it's evident that there are budgetary constraints throughout the production, the zombie scenes themselves rarely suffer. The makeup effects and CGI are strong, the character designs are creepy, the gore is plentiful and the head shots are brutal. When it all comes down to it, do you need more than that?
- Acting: C+ (Unpolished but likable.)
- Direction: B- (Cinematic style; good use of scenery.)
- Script: D+ (Thin story feels padded.)
- Gore/Effects: A- (Superb gore and makeup effects, particularly for such a small budget.)
- Overall: B- (A refreshingly old-school zombie movie with a new-school setting.)
The Dead is directed by Jonathan Ford and Howard J. Ford and and is rated R by the MPAA for bloody zombie violence and gore. Release date: October 7, 2011.