Thursday, 14 May 2015
This film is set in a version of 1950s America where World War 2 was "The Zombie War", a battle between humanity and the undead which was ultimately won by the living - at least, if one considers "living in sealed communities while large tracts of the country are left to the walking dead" to be victory.
The war has wrought other changes on society. Since everyone who dies becomes a zombie, funerals are now extremely elaborate and expensive, with the head having to be buried separately from the rest of the corpse. Those who can't afford to pay for them end up as flesh-eating monsters ... at least until ZomCon captures them and puts on a "control collar" that inhibits their hunger and renders them docile servitors. Society has thus passed all its menial jobs - janitorial work, groundskeeping, domestic servants - off to zombies.
If the jobs given to the zombies sound like those into which non-white Americans were relegated after the war ... well, I don't think that's a coincidence. The cast is resolutely, one hundred percent Caucasian. You won't be seeing an Asian-American or African-American face, and I think that's the result of a deliberate decision to equate "living" with "white" within the film.
Our main character is a young boy who has a rather distant relationship with his parents and plenty of problems with bullies at his school (the school scenes by the way are great: the film has thought through some of the implications of an ongoing zombie menace quite thoroughly and shows how that impacts the education of children). His life changes when his parents buy a zombie to help around the house. The boy dubs the newcomer 'Fido' and begins to strike up a rapport with the creature. For its part, the zombie - once treated a bit better than his kind normally are - begins to evidence a degree of loyalty and affection in turn, to the point that it can eventually overcome its hunger for flesh, even when its control collar malfunctions.
Of course, the friendship of boy and zombie never runs smooth and they'll have to deal with a lot of challenges from a society that insists on complete segregation.
This is a fine zombie-themed comedy-drama. I think the script could have done with a little tightening; in particular there are some early scenes involving the boy's mother where her character seems quite at odd with how she acts later in the film, but it's overall a strong production. It's frequently clever enough to provoke real laughs, and the central performances are all strong. It's worth your time if you're not immediately put off by the presence of zombies in a film.