The Movie Binge


I refuse to make even the smallest The Matrix joke

It seems impossible to believe, but there was probably a time when the concept of the Zombie did not exist solely as a metaphor for group-think, conformity or the ills of modern capitalism. But you wouldn't be able to tell that from recent films like Land of the Dead, 28 Weeks Later or the subject of this review, Andrew Currie's Zom-com Fido, all of which have been paying increasingly feeble dividends of vicarious undead pleasure to both the discerning genre fan and budding social critic.

Fido's critique in particular is so muddled as to almost defy comprehension. Fido is set during the fakest 1950s ever to be seen on celluloid, immediately following a world war against the undead, the number of which will eventually include every person on earth unless the head is severed prior to or following death. The Zombie problem has been contained through the ingenious use of fencing and the more ingenious use of a shocking-collar apparatus. The ingenious Invisible Fence apparently still awaits invention, which is a shame because I'm sure it could have saved a lot of lives. Anyway, the citizens still left alive after the great Zombie war walk around armed with pistols in case they have to blow away any recently dead elderly acquaintances (don't trust them) but other than that they pretty much resemble any other lame version of white, post-war suburban life you've seen on film in the last 45 years. Sounds like a passable premise for a film, and it is, but the problem is that the filmmakers don't advance too far beyond it, and when they do the narrative gets all haphazard. The actors are all fine but the characters they are given to play are such straw men that when they finally reach some sort of turning point or catalyst in their "arc" there is no reason why we should care at all.

The film is ostensibly a satire of conformity but as such it makes American Beauty look like the work of an astute and subtle observer. Saying that beneath the bland (though in this case, hard-pastel candy-colored - though that's somehow come to indicated bland in the vernacular of set designers. I blame Tim Burton) exterior of Suburbia howls the putrid, polymorphously perverse ancient many-tentacled id-child that our mothers warned us about is the sociological equivalent of saying "hey, you know what, Jim Morrison was actually a pretty shitty poet, dudes." In the future, please try a little, guys.

In addition to the ersatz Edward Scissorhands backlot, the filmmakers shovel on other metaphors or agents of conformity - zombies, sinister corporations, inaccurate and childish tv news, churlish cub scouts, insincere priests - like they're trying to bury the stinking corpse of their hacked to death script. Nothing ends up sticking, and by the middle of the movie you're wondering how they could have saved the film - re-cast it (did someone really see The Chumscrubber and say to themselves, "Holy shit, Carrie Ann Moss is awesome in this and I want her boobs to play the same role in my film!"), punch up the dialogue a little, make it more macabre, jettison the campy old-timey touches (obvious rear-projection, matte paintings that say "look at me, I'm a matte painting"), or include more of the very few actual ideas the writers had, such as the silly "head coffin." Such games can certainly amuse, particularly if relayed in hush tones while still lounging in the dark theater, but instead of paying to sit and kibitz with your buddies for 90 minutes, if you want your Zombie metaphor itch scratched, I urge you to return Dawn of the Dead. Every other modern Zombie film, no matter how much candy-colored enamel the production design team slaps on it, pales in comparison.