Director: Andrew Currie.
Starring. K’sun Ray, Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss, Henry Czerny, Tim Blake Nelson, Dylan Baker. Canada. 1h 33m.
For a while the Zombie revival was starting to get rather annoying, every Tom Dick and Harry were making a Zombie Vs [Insert Ludacris foe here] movie and for me it got to the level of almost being insulting to the craft of filmmaking. But every now and again somebody take the initiative to have a solid narrative before filming and thus we have Fido, for me one of the most unusual and genuinely funny comedy horrors for some time.
In this 1950s-esque alternative universe, Andrew Currie generates a vibrant American Dream in a world where space radiation has caused a zombie uprising, but through the humourous Fallout style announcements and adverts we learn that after the Zombie Wars a corporation called ZomCom found a way to pacify Zombies with collars and now, safe and docile they are used as general help around the home and offer public services in town. But anyone who dies will become a mindless bloodthirsty zombie so kids have drills at school and their curriculum includes learning how to kill with one shot, plus they have to be aware of any zombie who might break free of his/her collar as they will go feral and start a new blood craze. In all there’s a seamless blend of the small time Americana town and it’s zombie underclass. But is life ever that simple?
Curries characters are as American as apple pie, everyone lives in that 50’s conformist society, the main family headed by Bill Robinson (Baker) who has zombie phobia after an unfortunate incident involving his father and it makes him into a poor show of a father, something he’s typecast into now after Happiness and Trick Or Treat , his household consists of his adorable son Timmy Robinson (Ray) and his adorable wife Helen Robinson (Moss) who I have to say plays her role well, this was the first movie I saw her in other than The Matrix and I was highly impressed with her adaptability. The family are in the typical bracket and with a baby on the way (Moss was pregnant at the time) they want a zombie accessory like everyone else, so they get Fido (Connolly) and a friendship is born between him and their plucky son.
Timmy and Fido manage to go through all the school boy antics that a boy and his pet could go through in any classic literature, sadly Timmy doesn’t get stuck down a well but on one unfortunate misadventure Fido’s collar gets lose and he attacks a random bystander and Timmy had to try and control the situation, sending Fido back to the house to get his mom to help, it’s like a scene straight from Lassie. A lot of the gore and genuine horror is either off screen, shot in silhouette, hidden behind the comedy which is the dominant facet of the film.
Good dead are hard to find.
And this really sums up the strangely weird feel-good undertone of the movie, Timmy and his mindless friend go about being best friends and getting info mischief in the sunny town of Willard, facing down against bullies and stumbling on secrets at the ZomCom office, all to an appropriate upbeat retro soundtrack. One neighbour is an ex-employee of ZomCom, Mr Theopolis (Nelson) who now retired, spends his time with his teenage zombie girlfriend who spends some nights with her collar off as he likes that kind of danger in their relationship. There are no limits in this tiny colourful town, you can almost smell the coke in the cola.
There are lots of comic styles in the cinematography, a few scenes really stand out especially when an elderly woman turns and begins eating everyone at the park, it’s shot as a series of moving silhouettes against a night sky but the actions are so laughable and overdone but it work.
In recent years with the hoard of, often badly made zombie movies it takes a lot of creativity to stand out from the crowd and it’s defiantly what was achieved in the mix of rip splitting comedy and outrageous violence in what comes across as a light hearted comedy, and it’s humour is varied, it’s a bit geeky at times but Billy Connelly playing a moaning Zombie is just so funny despite his silence, a quick growl or flick or the eyebrow is all he needs sometimes and that history of comedy gold just flows from his blackened dead zombie body, but when you think back to his energetic stage shows it all starts to make sense that he doesn’t need a voice to make you laugh. I find it hilarious that it seems from his scars that he died from smoking which is a hobby he still enjoys in the afterlife and there might be a light shining for a particularly pretty lady of the house, who would have thought that being dead could just be so much fun.
There’s not a lot missing from Fido, despite it’s reserved attitude to gore it doesn’t over do the violence and throw in buckets of blood and the fear comes more from the strange situation and yet it still has so many fans in the horror genre, it’s such a break from the norm and I see why it’s received a partial cult following. Arnie’s depression horror drama Maggie (2015) didn’t draw in it’s audience as the build up is so unbelievable, letting potential zombies wander our streets so the family can have time with them is unlikely but if there’s a way to make slaves of the dead and build a profit.. well where there’s a will there’s a way.
But looking back over the film there’s one thing which worries me, and it’s chance to really amp up the ideas of enslaved and exploited people is totally missed, but I don’t believe the idea was to highlight the long history of African American objectification in a white dominated world, however it could have placed a wider diverse range in both cultures to level the playing field, but other than this, it’s still a successful satirical romp through a looney story.
Related – I Sell the Dead (2008), Barricade (2012), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Zombieland (2009)
Lists – A-Z Of Zombie Cinema
Article – Zombies Vs Infected
Spotlight – Billy Connelly, Tim Blake Nelson, Dylan Baker