Reel Reviews

The Dead - Blu-ray Review

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The Dead - Blu-ray Movie Review

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4 stars

Hard-hitting and full of nightmarish promise, The Ford Brothers absolutely deliver a visually stunning Zombie flick in The Dead.  It’s brutal in its gore and situationally nasty in all the write (get it?) places.  Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment, The Ford Brothers wisely use the barren landscape of West Africa and mix it with some of the creepiest looking zombies every recorded on film.  The result is an authentic look at real horror that never lets up.

In The Dead, Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) finds himself the lone survivor of a plane crash off the coast of Africa during the zombie apocalypse.  He’s far from civilization and must cross a war-torn Africa to get back to base.  Yet, these zombie creeps are everywhere.  They walk.  They don’t run.  And they are as brutal as they look.  He must overcome several challenges in his trek back to civilization.  Surviving the plane crash was just the beginning of his anguish and ordeal.

Local soldier Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei) becomes his sole confidant in the journey.  Dembele is searching for his son and, while knowledgeable of the terrain, is just as frustrated and disgusted by the hordes of flesh-eating zombies that Africa is populated with.  Together, the two men try to comfort each other with talk of hope and promise of better days as they overlook a landscape that speaks of just the opposite.  This is the end of days.  The dead outnumber the living.

Atmosphere is everything in The Dead and the payoff is great.  While dialogue is sparse, the location is ethereal, vast, and filled with spooky set-ups.  Who knew that changing a tire could be so tense; so disturbing; and so rewarding?  It’s the small stuff that counts the most in The Dead, but oh so worth the journey.  The living dead are everywhere, but not always seen.  It’s a trick of the camera.  They are reminders of just how dire things are and how deadly the landscape can be.

Apparently, the making of the movie wasn’t easy for the filmmakers and you can see just how rugged the locations were, but the end result is definitely something to celebrate.  The zombie effects are realistic and old-school.  Bones are brittle and faces are dry; a really memorable time in and out of the desert with a muted bit of spirituality to make The Dead a seriously strong flick for those bitten with the zombie film-craze bug.

While it has more in common with the grisly quirk of some of the Italian zombie flicks, The Dead is kind of in its own league.  The dead walk like Romero originally pictured them, but they also seem like they are more trouble in their wild packs.  Some will sour on the slow burn pace of the Ford Brothers have branded into the film.  Others will celebrate its perfectly natural and realistic quality.  The movie ends as quietly as it begins and that, in my book, makes The Dead an unforgettable and gritty tale of sub-Saharan zombie survival with a bit of humanity and integrity thrown in.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Dead - Blu-ray Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: Rated R for bloody zombie violence and gore.
Director
: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford
Writer: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford
Cast: Rob Freeman; Prince David Oseia; David Dontoh; Elizabeth Akingbade
Genre: Horror
Tagline:
The Dead
Memorable Movie Quote: "Our orders are to be at the roadblocks to stop the spread by shooting the infected."
Distributor:
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Official Site:
thedeaduk.webeden.co.uk
Release Date: No theatrical Release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 14, 2012

Synopsis: When the last flight out of war-torn Africa crashes off the coast, Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) is the sole survivor in a land where the dead are returning to life and attacking the living. On the run in a hostile and inhospitable parched landscape, Murphy has to use his wits and ingenuity if he is to get home alive to his family. When he crosses paths with local solider Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei), a man frantically searching for his son, they join forces. Two desperate men from two very different cultures fight side-by-side to survive across the incredible vistas of Africa as the world around them succumbs to the deadliest of viruses.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Dead - Blu-ray Movie Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 14, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

The daytime desert detail is 1080p perfection.  The sun and subsequent heat sizzles everything and fine detail is top notch throughout the heat waves the camera picks up.  The film was originally filmed in 2010, but the golden crispness of the details would never have you guess that.  Colors are obviously warm, but ripe with drenching dynamics as the scenery changes from village to jungle floor to desert and back again.  Blues are sparse, but rich when present.  Flesh tones are solid and punctuated with sweat beads and sand grit.  Please note, as solid as the picture is, one shouldn’t expect the color palette to change all that much and, as a result, one might get a bit too sun-bleached by the whole affair.  The sound – presented here in a pretty solid Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack – can kick as smartly as its picture, but the bass plays out more as vibration than actual thumps.  The immersive quality is fair, but inconsistent.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Provided by the Ford Brothers, this commentary is enthusiastic and covers the writing, the filming, and the general process of bringing the film to life.  Like I said, the filming was rough and these two talk extensively about the horrors and difficulties of the shoot.  It’s a good track that makes one appreciate the film for the effort that went into getting this thing to hold together.

Special Features:

With no interviews and no real making of featurette, the supplemental material is bit inferior to what one might expect.  We get the strong commentary, but the rest is told mainly through raw footage in what goes down a sort of video diary disguised as the behind the scenes look at the making of the film.  For the amount of drama behind the camera, this is just too brief to be meaningful.  Also included is one deleted scene that, while bloody, simply adds little to the mix.

  • Behind the Scenes (5 min)
  • Deleted Scene (2 min)

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