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Ben Austwick [Film Festival 09.02.10] zombies movie review

Year: 2010
Directors: Howard J. Ford & Jonathan Ford
Writers: Howard J. Ford & Jonathan Ford
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 4.5 out of 10

Frightfest wouldn't be Frightfest without zombies, and this year the success of The Pack showed that the genre is still capable of showing us novel, interesting films. The Dead's unusual African setting opens all kinds of opportunities and could have been another innovator, but unfortunately all we get is zombies in Africa, and pretty boring ones at that.

The Dead follows the journey of American military engineer Lieutenant Brian Murphy and local soldier Sargent Daniel Dembele, abandoned in a continent left to a plague of zombies, as they try to reach the last remaining military airport and Daniel's lost son. With nothing but minor diversions the long journey across the African landscape is a bit of a trudge, attacks by small groups of easily dispatched zombies offering no tension whatsoever.

Opportunities to add diversions are passed up with baffling frequency. When the two comrades have to pour their remaining water in their truck's radiator, risking thirst and death in the desert, they find a water pump mere seconds later. A baby rescued from a dying mother is handed to refugees in a handy passing truck almost immediately. Nothing will get in the way of The Dead's insistence on sticking to the most basic story possible, which isn't the best way to make an interesting movie.

There was some anticipation that like video game Resident Evil 5 the African setting and white central character - effectively pitching a white hero against black zombies - could prove contentious, but the introduction of a black partner for the hero throughout much of the film goes some way to negate this. The main factor though is a lack of any context or background story at all as The Dead doggedly sticks to its linear narrative. All it gives us is a shooting gallery of zombies, and this really isn't enough. Nowadays zombie films really have to be different to stick out from the crowd, and this one seems to do its utmost to be average and dull.

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Simon Timpson (11 years ago) Reply

What film were you watching ???? this had all the elements of a great film, the film had such a beautiful theme throughout and the slow moving zombies was a bonus, the buzz outside after the screening was incredible, 4.5 out of 10 maybe he meants 45/10, i think this film is a must see


James (11 years ago) Reply

i totally disagree, as a self confessed zombie expert this goes straight into my all time top three, beautifully shot and real emotion i was blown away by it


Zombie frank (11 years ago) Reply

i missed the first ten minutes but what i saw like as a whole was great, definately a film to see compared to some of the stuff out there id easily give it 8/10


Alan Tompkinson (11 years ago) Reply

Shot on Film, beautiful locations, slow zombies with no cheesy cgi, good acting, emotion....... bloody brilliant film


Jeanne (11 years ago) Reply

I do not believe you watched The Dead at Frighfest. You may dislike some or all of it if you want, but you can certainly not pretend that there is no tension !! For once you have a classy film, shot in beautiful location and bringing true emotion. As soon as it is released, I'll get a ticket for you to see it again !!!


Josh (11 years ago) Reply

I think the author must have had his brains eaten by a zombie!!! what was bad about the zombies? the make up was done excellently, how many zombie movies are shot in such wonderful locations and some real acting???? top marks for a top film


Paul (11 years ago) Reply

Quietearth, i think you seriously need to consider who does your reviews, this muppet clearly wasn't at the same screening that 1000 other fans were, yes some will not always find it their cup of tea but this guy seems to have missed everything about it, look at the comments Ben and go back to journalism school, if in fact you ever did attend!


Colin Edwards (11 years ago) Reply

Saw the movie and saw the audience reaction, really liked the film. I am not usually a zombie fan but this film offered more then the usual genre movie, was thoroughly enjoyable and i would recommend it


Cassius (11 years ago) Reply

was ok, not the best film ever for me but liked the nice views and the technical quality was right up there


Romero no 2 (11 years ago) Reply

oh how people differ! Great film for me


Tony (11 years ago) Reply

What was this guy watching??????? Wasn't the film the rest of us was, maybe he was just in a bad mood!!! Lol the film rocked!!!


Sally T (11 years ago) Reply

This has to be the worst piece of journalism i have ever seen, yes everyone has different opinions but please please people don't listen to his slander!! Lol it was a wonderful experience watching this movie!


Kenny (11 years ago) Reply

Saw it, Loved it as did the 900 others or so there! Ben you must have fallen asleep and dreamt about flight of the living dead or some other film...


Charlie (11 years ago) Reply

4.5/10 way off man, yes there were a few faults but thats in 99% of films, you are way over the top in your criticism, it was a very well put together film


DAVE666 (11 years ago) Reply

I can't believe this review, The buzz at the end of the festival was That Monsters and The Dead were way ahed of the rest, people loved these two movies


Jason (11 years ago) Reply

i feel this is more inline with what the majority of others see in the film.


Jack L (11 years ago) Reply

A friend of mine got me a ticket to see this, and in all honesty it wasn't the top of my must see list BUT actually really enjoyed this!! Can't help but feel this review is rather harsh and it certainly does not describe the film I saw. I enjoyed it's simplicity in parts, it's subtle humour, the back drops blow my socks off and knowing I was sharing a cinema with the cast & crew - well it was exciting. I would go see this again at the movies which is unusual for me. Would recommend it to anyone...


Kate (11 years ago) Reply

I went with my boyfriend who is a zombie fan, I am far from that but went in the name of love!!! Anyway what I saw was an excellent film shot in such a stunning way it really had an impact on me. i would describe it as a beautiful horror film! 5 star!


Jonas (11 years ago) Reply

This was the only movie I watched at frightfest. I just happened to be in london that day and it was the only movie of the ones I wanted to see that wasn't sold out.

And I loved it! I am a big fan of zombies and this was exactly the kind of zombie film I love.

The scenery/photography was amazing. The movie looks beautiful. Even though the zombies might have been a tiny bit too slow the directors knew exactly how to build tension around the fact that they're slow. It's all about the survival in the long run.

The only real bad thing I could think of was the dreadful acting of the lead actor. Horrendous. Everything else: Perfect slow zombie film.


Jambo (11 years ago) Reply

i liked this one a lot, definitely in my top two films of the festival


Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

These comments are all from the same person. Proof from another site:


Top Banana (11 years ago) Reply

I though the film was pretty good. Lead actor was a bit naff, but the african lead was good. Decent film, well shot, good deaths. Overall not mega awesome but not crap either, wouldn't mind seeing again tho. I'd give it a good 7/10.


Alice Reynolds (11 years ago) Reply

I’ve not made a comment so far but I’ve read a lot about The Dead and it was one of 4 films I saw at the festival. Apart from a couple of bits I could criticise it’s really an amazing piece of work and the type of film that should be encouraged as it was a brave venture by film makers in this watered down digital age. I have been involved in a couple of short films and I know how hard it is to make anything, especially how it must have been in Africa and yet the dead worked so beautifully and was really gripping and in places incredibly scary. ‘No tension you say’ I was gripping my partners hand in places harder than when I gave birth! I also thought it was very well acted especially from the African co star but the American was also very good. This review above by quiet earth lacks any intelligence and I don’t understand how the reviewer could miss so much that the dead has on display and how unique an experience watching the film actually was, it has really knocked my confidence in online reviews.


EV (11 years ago) Reply

Seriously, give the guy a break. Because he didn't like the film, it doesn't make it 'bad journalism', it just mean the guy has a different opinion. I didn't see this one at the FF, as - to be honest - it looked tedious, but I'm now curious because of the good reviews. After all, I loved last years 'La Horde' yet many hated it.

Overreaction much.


Mugshot films (11 years ago) Reply

Good journalism should be informative and not personal, having an opinion is one thing but providing a review that is so left of center compared to the overwhelming consensus of opinion without providing at least some commentary for the pluses of the film leaves me to suspect there is at least some animosity towards the film makers and this at least appears to be due to the link with the other associated site. The journalist who wrote the negative review should at least have the good sense to acknowledge the positive aspects of this film even if they ultimately didn't like it. If for no other reason than people will ultimately not trust their judgment in future reviews when they will be seen as the only ones who were unable to do so. At the end of the day, the growing consensus of opinion will win the day as to whether this film is as good as the reports out there and if in anyone is in doubt, go see it and judge for yourselves. Oh and if anyone is pondering whether I know the film makers personally, the answer is yes, but that's beside the point. My own opinion of the film is reserved until after I have seen it for myself. Peace


darkfish (11 years ago) Reply

Could the director please stop posting non-stop positive comments?


Ben Austwick (11 years ago) Reply

I don't accentuate the good parts of the film because that would be dishonest - a good reviewer writes about what is there on the screen and the overall effect. That's what I aspire to. I try to be objective, but I also need to balance that with my own opinion. If I didn't trust my own opinion I might as well stop now.

There have been some good reviews of The Dead because there is an audience for zombie films, and there are fans of the genre who like its straightforward style. This doesn't make it a good film, it just means there are people who like it. I stand by everything I've said in this review.

What is galling is that the comments attacking me for my integrity seem to come from the same hand. Furthermore, there are very few comments on my other reviews of much more controversial and interesting films from Frightfest. It suggests that people (or a person) involved with this film are posting the comments.

There is serious moral dishonesty here - I have been accused of slander, and there is a call for Quiet Earth to sack me.

Take a good, long look at yourself mate. And grow a pair as well.


Kowalski (11 years ago) Reply

well done Ben, you good chap.

If my next film ever got a poor review by you, I'll stand by my words not to go on a one man tirade...just as long as it does not go below 6 outta 10


Sue Patton (11 years ago) Reply

A friend of mine who i saw this film with, left a comment on this review and then was accused of being the director of the movie! Well i can tell you he isn't and before anyone says it, neither am I. Either this reviewer is completely out of touch with his audience or he's trying to undermine this film! I was there! i saw this movie and the great reaction to it! I read the twitchfilm blog, I hope these two sites are not playing an underhanded game! A journalist who compromises his integrity has nothing! I for one will look elsewhere for reviews i can trust!


Mugshot Films (11 years ago) Reply

Dear Ben, I've been in the business for 20years and grew a pair as you put it a long time ago. My earlier posting was not the co-director as you keep trying to suggest but me, Mark Andrews, professional film maker, also, the other comments from my own investigation are not the director but third parties. I'd be happy to get into a pissing contest with you if you would care to elaborate on your accusations and back them up with some hard evidence but I suspect that would be hard given the lack thereof. Also anyone wishing to question my integrity and own comments feel free to email me directly, that's why I posted my email address. just keep it professional. Peace.


Rob (10 years ago) Reply

A lousy review indeed. This is one of the greatest zombie movies ever made, and one that I will use as a marker to judge all zombie films against from now on.

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