Take a look at the movie poster below for the Ford Brothers’ “The Dead” (2010). It’s problematic for two reasons.
One, of course, is that it contains what is arguably the most unimaginative title in zombie movie history.
Two is its immediate recollection of the marketing art for Zack Snyder’s terrific 2004 “Dawn of the Dead” remake. It is so similar in composition and color scheme that it makes the Ford Brothers’ film look like a “mockbuster,” whose cover is designed to fool hasty movie renters.
And that’s a shame, because “The Dead” is a fairly decent zombie movie in its own right — I’d rate it a 7 out of 10. It’s a lower-budget feature, and some of the acting is a bit flat, but this is a movie that does a lot with a little. The film wisely makes the most of its African setting, and has an intelligent, if slowly paced, story. It focuses on its two military protagonists’ needs for food, sleep, shelter, fuel and vigilance, during the course of a lengthy overland trek. That’s refreshing in an era of “Strippers vs. Zombies” (2012), and various fairly lackluster clones of “Shaun of the Dead” (2004).
Best of all, however, is the film’s skilled manner of evoking “slow burn” or “creeping” horror. The zombies in “The Dead” usually move quite slowly. They might be the slowest zombies I’ve ever seen. This might be the anti-“28 Days Later” (2002). But that makes the vibe here unique among the spate of modern zombie films — and maybe a little reminiscent of George A Romero’s pioneering early films. If your reaction is like mine, you’ll find it a little unnerving to see them gather en masse at a snail’s pace.
I recommend this.