The Dead was a refreshingly simple take on the zombie genre that took things back to the origins. It didn’t try to explain, solve or reinvent, merely gave us a film that dealt with the age old conundrum ‘how would a normal human act if bystanders started chomping on them and their friends’?
By cutting out the origins bullshit and sticking with scenes that explore just how scary and perilous such a scenario would be, The Dead reminded us that flesh eating undead are effective without window dressing and gussying up.
It was inevitable that there would be The Dead 2, similarly inevitable that it would disappoint.
This time the outbreak of bitey takes place in India, where apparently Bolllywood is yet to deal with the possibility of zombie invasion. Time and time again formerly normal and decent individuals lurch forward to take a chunk from a loved one and everyone looks surprised but does nothing about it. There’s only so many times that you might see what looks like one human chowing down on another before you stop for a better look, or at least to consider the implications for yourself in the near future. The people in The Dead 2 happen upon an attack and act like the people you carjack in Grand Theft Auto 3, by saying “Hey!” and walking off calmly while you take their wheels as if nothing just happened.
The main plotline follows Nicholas, an American working a contract in India who ignores the opportunity to join the initial ‘White people evacuation plane’ to navigate zombie infested territory and be with his Indian girlfriend Ishani, who has just told him she is pregnant, something her father is not at all pleased with. Nicholas teams up with a small orphan child who seems to have an inbuilt GPS, directing Nicholas through harsh terrain and the maze like backstreets of many small Indian settlements, always steering Nicholas toward his end goal.
During the journey Nicholas gets to paraglide and drive motorbikes and cars fast. He also happens upon a rusty pistol which alternates between being a revolver and having a magazine in different scenes. Furthermore it seems ammunition for this magic gun seems to be scattered all over India, like the filmmakers think Resident Evil is real.
The film is quite obviously cheap and the acting is often very amateurish. This is most evident in the countless scenes where the few actors with actual dialogue must deliver mini-speeches meant to tug at the heartstrings and bring home the terrible reality of zombie infestation. Instead it just left you wanting more zombie chomping.
The Dead was a brutal and uncompromising examination of the horror of the undead rising, The Dead 2 is derivative and unpolished. Not quite awful enough to laugh through, but not nearly good enough to enjoy. There was one thirty second scene which reminded me of how cool and emotionally draining zombie movies can be, the remainder was a bit of a bore.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. There are many ways to extract the joy from zombies, here is another.