OCTOBER 13, 2008
Had I never seen Boy Eats Girl, Shaun Of The Dead, and/or Automaton Transfusion, I’d probably be singing the praises of Dance Of The Dead to anyone who would listen. It’s a fun film, with great zombie effects, a breakneck pace, and some engaging characters, but throughout the film I couldn’t help but feel like I had seen it all before; albeit not necessarily better or worse. Apparently the script was written ten years ago, so I can cut them some slack, but still: update the draft, maybe?
Like those other films (except Shaun), our heroes are high school kids, which makes me wish I had this movie 10-12 years ago (which is probably why I respond so favorably to Shaun – he’s a late 20s guy who wants to sit around and play video games), and despite being all unknown, they are all great in their respective roles. Chandler Darby in particular is fantastic. His character arc is slightly less generic than that of Jared Kusnitz (the actual lead), and he also delivers my favorite line in the film (I wont spoil the joke, but the out of context punchline is “I didn’t think of it like that.”). He also gets paired with the film’s cutest girl, so he wins on all fronts.
The zombie makeup and effects work is also pretty great. It’s not as gory as some other recent zombie films, but it delivers when necessary. It also has one of the best “rise from the graves” scenes in recent memory; rather than slowly crawl up, they sort of catapult out of their graves and hit the ground running. That it’s all presented in a massive tracking shot is all the more impressive; this clearly was not a film with a huge budget, and to see such a great setpiece delivered with hardly any CG is highly laudable.
However, there is one thing about this scene that bugged me – why do all the zombies resurrect at the same time? Early on, during the day, we see the gravekeeper collecting assorted body parts, so it’s obvious that whatever is causing them to return to life is already in place, but they apparently all wait until night, when our heroes have all converged nearby. It’s a goofy movie, and thus you gotta suspend disbelief and all that, but this was still distracting to me.
Not sure when they filmed this, but I would guess it was at LEAST later than Shaun, so I wish they had done something a little different than the same sort of “slacker guy learns to stand up and do something with his life via killing zombies” scenario, and maybe were a little more selective with the dumb humor (“I don’t know how to fire a machete!” – worst line in zomcom history), but you can’t deny the film’s energy. It’s a shame that it’s going DTV; it’s definitely a crowd pleasing film that will benefit from a large group of folks laughing and cheering. Rent it with friends!
What say you?