Saturday, April 11, 2009
Movie Review - Fido (2006)
I was excited to finally get a chance to see Fido. I had heard great things about it on the various horror sites I lurk about on on a daily basis.
This independent zombie film does not fail to deliver.
Directed and written by a relatively inexperienced team, this wonderful zomcomrom (zombie comedy/romance) hits all the right notes and, in addition to paying homage and respecting the genre's established conventions, it manages to add to the genre with a story line that is innovative and fresh.
The story takes place sometime in the late 1940's or early 1950's. It's after the war, but instead of having fought Germans, Italians, and the Japanese... mankind was pitted against hordes of the ravenous undead. This simple premise is what makes this film seem so absolutely brilliant. It still has America luxuriating in the blissful, innocent, post-war years that my father was born into. The "golly gee", Leave It To Beaver world where men wear chinos and work to provide a living. The women wear house gowns and wait for their men to return home, their makeup done and a pre-diner cocktail waiting for their man. And the kids dream of being cowboys and trade baseball cards while playing ball in the sandlot at the end of the street.
And Fido perfectly captures that nostalgic innocence beutifully, although there's now a darker side to it. Kids have shooting practice in their curriculum at school, learning to defend their families and selves with zombie killing headshots. The idyllic towns are surrounded by fences, behind which a wasteland crawling with the undead shamble about in search of warm, living flesh. As an added bonus...technology has now enabled the Zombie War survivors to even domesticate zombies with a special collar... turning them into the perfect, docile house servent.
And this is the crux of the story. The Robinsons are living the new American dream.. with ineffectual and zombie-traumatized dad (played by the always great character actor, Dylan Baker), neglected wife Helen (Carrie Ann Moss) and their son Timmy. Helen, tired of her husband's fear of zombies and wanting to 'keep up with the Joneses', orders their own zombie. Fido (played by Billy Connelly) arrives... and Fido becomes the dog that Timmy never had.
That is, until Fido's collar begins to malfunction.
The cinematography and visuals of this flick were absolutely incredible. The Director and DP did a fabulous job of capturing the look and feel of 1950's America. And then, there are scenes like the one where a recently zombified neighbor goes on the hunt. Beautifully rendered, the zombie stalks through the night against a backdrop of the moon which fills the screen.
There was little gore in the film, but what was done was done brilliantly. The costumes, the sets, the actors...everything was dead on.
The true standout performances though, go to lead zombie Fido and Carrie Anne Moss' Helen. Despite heavy zombie makeup that makes him near unrecognizable, and the limiting of his lines to zombie moans; Billy Connelly manages to express more emotion and pathos with just his expressions then Kevin Costner has done in ANY of his movies. Carrie Anne Moss, who I've wanted desperately since The Matrix, furthers adds to my unrequited love and sexual frustration by appealing to my 1950's pinup girl fetish.
The other characters are interesting and comic in their own right. There's the Robinson's neighbor, Mr. Theopolis (played brilliantly by Tim Blake Nelson) and his ucloseness and unexplainedly unnatural relationship to his zombie, Tammy. Then we have the villain, Special agent Bottoms, played by the excellent Henry Czerny. All of the characters are written well and the actors breathed life into the script.
Quite simply, this is one of the best zombie movies to come out in a long time.
And, I think what works so well is it's retelling of history. It makes a zombie war... and the time period in which it happens... seem believable. Recently, many of the zombie and horror sites have been excited about a novel called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. It's a retelling of Jane Austen's literary classic, Pride and Prejudice, but only with zombies.
I think this, and Fido, are an incredible idea. The zombie genre has become stale and something of a cliche; and historic reworkings are breathing new life into my beloved genre. And Doctor Zombie couldn 't be happier.
So - Fido. This is a must see. That is all!
Doctor Zombie's Rating: 5 Out of 5 Chomped Brains!!!
P.S - Mmmm.... Carrie Ann Moss...