Once you’ve seen all the popular zombie movies, it’s time to dig deeper. And in those depths, you might find The Dead, a movie with an authentic setting, dreadful atmosphere, and a lot of heart. You can feel that this was a small passion project looking to differentiate itself from the rest of the crowd. The Dead is that zombie you notice in a horde of zombies because it’s different. It takes place in Africa and most of the shooting was done in Burkina Faso and Ghana. This gives it an authentic feel and an exotic atmosphere. We already talked about a similar science fiction project Revolt starring charismatic Lee Pace.
We’re finally out of the urban areas and in those inhospitable and desolate landscapes of West Africa. Now, this decision proved to be the right one although it made the shoot quite difficult. Lead actor Rob Freeman contracted malaria and almost died plus there were other technical difficulties. If you want to know more about this, you can read Howard J. Ford’s book “Surviving The Dead”. The special effects were not so bad for this type of production with a couple of disturbingly effective scenes. The one where Brian runs over a zombie was too fucking real man!
The script was also solid and I like the attention to detail. The resources are limited, so our heroes don’t go around shooting everybody or wasting water. However, the pacing and storytelling are off, especially towards the end. What was immersive and thought-provoking in the first part of the movie transformed almost into an ordeal during the second part. This is why I think The Dead is only worth watching for zombie movie fans. Although if you’re looking for something different, I’m sure you’re going to like it. Additionally, if you’re a filmmaker yourself, you might learn a thing or two.
Lieutenant Brian Murphy was on the last plane out of Africa just as the zombie apocalypse was in full swing below him. It didn’t really matter that people started turning onboard his flight because they soon crashed into the sea. As one of the few survivors, he makes it onto the shore and starts thinking about his next steps. Alone, without weapons or supplies, and surrounded by hordes of zombies, Brian will need to come up with a solution fast. If he wants to live that is.
The Dead features slow-walking zombies and as such is reminiscent of the zombie movies of the old. No place is safe as there’s no hiding from them. This makes the atmosphere rather nihilistic as you would rather kill yourself than go on living in this hell on Earth. I liked how they leaned into this feeling as I imagine this is how things would play out in reality. Something that seems to be quite rare in modern zombie movies keen on adding more humor to the mix.
Finally, you should know that the Ford brothers tried to replicate this formula with a sequel to this movie. Titled The Dead 2: India, you can already guess that we will be following another guy who finds himself in the thick of it. Only now he has a pregnant girlfriend he needs to find. So, if you’re looking for more of the same do check it out.
Directors: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford
Writers: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford
Cast: Rob Freeman, Prince David Osei, Ben Crowe, David Dontoh, Anne Davaud, Garard Ouadraogo
Fun Facts: Rob Freeman didn’t use any safety gear for the scene in which he climbs a steep rock quarry.