Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Horrorthon 3: Day Twelve: The Dead (The Ford Brothers, 2011) -- D+
A UK import that’s as lifeless as any domestic variant, The Dead (literal title should be hint #1) does little more than flip the post-apocalyptic setting from stateside to Africa, a move that could (and should) yield fascinating results. Instead, the Ford Brothers come off as fanboys rather than satirists/sociologists, flat-out banal in their derivative dialogue, plotting, and approach to scares. The failure is fascinating in-and-of itself: how can such an inspired geographical shift yield such meddlesome results? Well, when cultural specificity succumbs to hackneyed screenwriting tactics (there are strains of motivation, backstory, and unlikely partnership throughout), all that’s left is the fat – homogenized at that. Moreover, in the decision to have a displaced American Air Force Lieutenant (Rob Freeman) as one of the leads (or, in usual white-guy-steals-black-guy’s-movie terms, THE lead), the Ford Brothers forgo a more compelling alternative to appeal to populist expectation. Their attempts to guise this decision as purely narrative driven falters (local Sergeant Daniel (Prince David Osei) criticizes the white man’s hypocritical arrival of “raised weapons, medicine hand-outs”), in that it’s merely another screenwriting trick to establish conflict (to be resolved, surely). Furthermore – this is an ugly looking film by any stretch. To say “it’s supposed to be ugly” misses the point; the directorial duo lack a sense of economy, their mise-en-scene merely “point-and-shoot,” rather than tightly composed. Like many indie filmmakers, the pair have little-to-nothing to offer outside their shoestring budget pride, which even loses its charm when one realizes this is just the same sort of ho-hum hack-work big-budget Hollywood churns out. Either way, the results are the same.