Fido – the caring zombie

4 Nov

Hot off the heels of Shaun of the Dead in 2004 (which featured the idea of using zombies as slave labour – and to be honest, is probably not the first either), came Fido in 2006. It’s an indie zombie film starring Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity from The Matrix) and Billy Connolly. It was bought for me by a friend who knows I love zombies and have an odd sense of humour.

It starts off by setting the scene with a cheesy ‘Zomcon’ infomercial. Zomcon have tamed the zombie threat with a neck brace which, when lit contains all the nasty zombie urges and makes them docile creatures. It’s set in an alternate 50s universe where radiation from a fallen meteor has screwed the human race and a different war happened – The Z War. It’s a place where “10% of people have funerals – most become zombies”. Apparently proper funerals are super-expensive (on account of the fact you now need two coffins – one for your body, another for your head).

People have the same post-war mentalities as expected so it’s all keeping up with the Jones’. As such, it’s quite reminiscent of old technicolor films like The Sound of Music – specifically one scene where boy and zombie are running through fields together. I’ve never been a big fan of those style of movies so I guess I probably missed quite a few potential in-jokes.

The characters are all quite depressed in their lives – there’s Mr Robinson, who is a man terrified of zombies living in a world full of them; Mrs Robinson – married to a man who is so self-absorbed that he doesn’t notice that she’s so pregnant it looks like she’s smuggling a watermelon; Timmy – a boy starved of attention and so lonely he finds his only friendship in the undead; Fido – their new household zombie slave/pet/caretaker (Billy Connolly). It’s quite difficult to relate to the characters because they do seem quite removed from modern life and there are weird inconsistencies that aren’t necessarily explained.

Fido

It’s the typical neighbourhood too (in that it’s totally messed up) – one of the neighbours has some kind of weird fetish relationship with his female zombie. There are undertones of slavery – lots of comments about how the neighbours have more zombies, and being unable to afford so many zombies – so it’s a bit unclear as to what exactly, this is a comment on. The relationship between Fido and his female ‘owner’ is fairly questionable at the best of times but there’s a scene where she asks:

“Why aren’t you eating me?”
*fawning noises*
“For goodness sake, Fido!”

The film doesn’t really go into why she’s attracted to him either – it seems like there’s literally no reason other than the fact that he likes her – which just makes it seem a bit odd, to be honest. She dresses him in her husband’s suits and dances with him but really he has nothing to offer besides the fact that he cares more than her actual husband.

After Fido protects Timmy from bullies they become best friends and Timmy takes Fido everywhere. Fido becomes more than a friend to him – he’s more affectionate than his own dad. Unfortunately, Fido’s safety collar is a bit dodgy – and he has a penchant for infecting the neighbours! This leads to an old-lady zombie in a nice pink suit and a whole spate of infections and missing people before the root of the infection is tracked down to Fido. Instead of replacing his collar, the authorities take Fido away to be destroyed. It’s basically ye olde pet story but unlike those, I didn’t end up blubbing like a baby – possibly because Fido isn’t remotely cute, but also, I’m not really sure it was executed very well.

It didn’t do vastly well on release but then I’m not entirely sure it was well distributed (I’d certainly never heard of it before). It’s not laugh out loud funny – more amusing than anything else – but it’s a slightly different take on the traditional zombie film. Acting-wise, it’s all solid performances – Billy Conolly groans exceptionally well and Carrie-Anne Moss is great as usually.

It does seem to have the feel of a bigger budget film but with a little something missing – I think the plot could have done with a little work to balance it out a bit. That said, it’s crazily colourful and really well directed – there are some slightly unusual camera angles and effects at use here. There are some really great scenes – the park scene where the police are just standing still taking pot shots at zombies dittering about amused me muchly. Overall, it’s a zombie film of a differnt variety to normal – I’m not sure it’d really be of interest to many zombie lovers (it’s a little too niche, I reckon) but it did have some very nice touches to it.

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