By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 25, 2011 at 8:14AM
We first alerted you all to this film, titled The Dead, in April, last year; at the time, its future was uncertain. A month or so later, it screened at the Cannes Film Market to overwhelmingly positive audience responses, and managed its way to some distribution opportunities; although, as of this post, it hasn't played outside of the film festival circuit - at least nothing indicates otherwise.
As I said in my initial post… if District 9 was the “Aliens In Africa” project, then we could maybe call The Dead the “Zombies In Africa” project.
Co-directed by brothers Howard J. Ford and Jonathan Ford (Americans), the film was shot entirely on location in mostly Burkina Faso and Ghana, in West Africa, and is described as “a powerful story of one man’s struggle to survive in extreme circumstances all the while battling against a menacing threat all around him!”
An American mercenary, the sole survivor of a plane crash, has to run the gauntlet across Africa, battling the living dead, joining forces with a local military man, who is desperately searching for his son amongst the chaos, as they fight together to survive.
Naturally, the American mercenary is Caucasian, not-so unlike the hero in District 9, amidst a sea of zombies, seemingly made up entirely of black Africans! Hmmm… it's not an allegorical tale, but some layered analysis of just the concept alone could be a dissertation.
While I’ll certainly welcome, and even embrace a zombie film made in any part of Africa, starring Africans, this particular set up makes me a little uncomfortable, if past films about Africans in Africa, with white lead protagonists, produced by non-Africans (read whites) are any indication of what to expect. Also, the thought of a watching a white dude roaming through black Africa, picking off black men and women (zombies or not), shattering skulls with a machine gun (or whatever weapon he uses) to protect himself, doesn't at all encourage me to want to see this. It conjures up a turbulent, still very influential history.
However, I’ll reserve full criticism until I actually see the film; assuming I am able to see it. There may be more to it than I'm giving it credit for.
I've been following the film's progress via its Facebook page, and just realized that a new trailer was posted yesterday, chock-full of praise from some of those who've seen it. And despite my aforementioned concerns, I'll say that it's actually a much improved trailer, compared to the first two we saw last year, which gave the film a definite straight-to-DVD or VOD release look and feel. Not that my initial perception has changed drastically; it's just a much better trailer overall.