This movie is a nice break from the deluge of zombie flicks made since Dawn Of The Dead (2004), and goes far in ensuring the genre remains well and truly alive, or more precisely undead. More than just a zombie flick, The Dead is an escape for survival set in a harsh African environment where there is no shelter or anywhere to hide from the ever present threat of a zombie attack.
The story is a simple one in which military engineer Lt Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) washes ashore in West Africa after his evacuation flight crashes. While trying to reach an air field in the north, he runs into Sgt Daniel Dembele (Prince David Ose), searching for his son who was rescued after his village was decimated by zombies and so together the men trek across Africa’s wilderness never safe from the numerous but slow-moving, shambling zombies.
Within a short time of its opening sequence, it was apparent Directors and writers Howard and Jonathan Ford cared deeply about their zombie offering with the walking cadavers authentic and scary. The special effects were first rate including wounds, bites and jagged bones sticking through legs, and even though the zombies themselves are slow moving, their sheer numbers provide a constant oppressive threat as they relentlessly creep towards the main characters.
The cinematography, too, looked amazing shot as it was on location with 35mm film giving it a gritty, realistic look, while The Dead’s serious foreboding atmosphere created a feeling of perpetual anxiety even through the slower parts of the movie. There were also plenty of nice touches like Murphy sleeping up a tree while a zombie passes by underneath.
Credit should also go to the actors who provided a fitting performance and allowed their heroic partnership to develop with growing respect and poignancy shining through the bleak and hopeless situation. Being both practical military men, there is also a maturity rarely seen in such genres and a believability to their actions, which avoids all the obvious contrived situations which leave you exasperated, such as people making dumb decision or tripping up and getting eaten.
In sum, this gruesome survival adventure set in Africa stands apart from the genre exploitation of recent years, and is among the most convincing, realistic and creepy zombie movies made. With pace and suspense reminiscent of the Romero trilogy, The Dead is a definite recommend for fans of classic, suspenseful zombie horrors.