Monday, September 29, 2014

THE DEAD 2: INDIA (2013) Blu-ray review

The Dead 2: India (2013) d. Howard J. Ford / Jonathan Ford (UK)

The Ford Brothers made a big splash in 2010 with their zombie flick The Dead set in the epic vistas of Africa, chronicling the journey of two human survivors – one American, one African – who must form an uneasy alliance in the face of their common undead enemies. The combination of gorgeous location shooting, solid portrayals, impressive practical and digital f/x, and an atmosphere of sunlight-drenched dread proved a potent one, and the film was embraced by audiences and critics alike. Unfortunately, in this tenuously connected companion piece, the writer/director siblings (with Jonathan again serving as cinematographer) bring nothing new to the table except tired clichés and horrendously mannered performances, neither of which aid their cause.

We are introduced to American engineer Nicholas (Joseph Millson), in country to assist in building India’s massive wind farms, and learn that his dallying with one of the local ladies Ishani (Meenu Mishra) has resulted in her being knocked up, much to the chagrin of her deeply religious father (Sandip Gatta Gupta) who had planned to marry her off to someone else.

All this exposition spills out within the first 10 minutes like the entrails of a gutted rotter, with much the same stink, and if the star-crossed lovers tropes weren’t bad enough, we’re also given an orphaned tyke, Javed (Anand Krishna Goyal), so Nicholas can serve as a surrogate father. As the two make their way across the desolate, unforgiving landscape to meet up with Ishani, they predictably meet up with hordes of shamblers and humans cruel and kind. But with the rare exception of a paraglider stunt and an unfortunate mother and child trapped in a car, there’s nothing we haven’t seen done before and better.

There’s no denying that the Fords have carved out a specific niche in the overflowing zombie landscape, one where Walkabout meets The Walking Dead, but despite the magnificent panoramas, the story is badly hobbled by the sluggish pace and Millson’s dull central turn – the guy is game on a motorcycle or with a small engine strapped to his back, but fails to deliver the necessary empathy for our lead.

Further exacerbating matters are the impenetrable accents of Mishra, Goyal, and Gupta; I have a pretty good ear for dialects, but I had to flip on the subtitles after only five minutes and start again. (With over half the dialogue indecipherable to the Western ear, viewing this in a festival setting would have been extremely frustrating.)

Ultimately, this is far from the worst zombie movie ever made, but it’s hardly must-see material. (Personally, I’m eager to see what the Bros. Ford are capable of outside of their highly specialized milieu.)

The Dead 2 is available now on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay (special features include an interview/making-of with the Fords conducted by English horror fan Billy Chainsaw and some deleted scenes) and and can be ordered HERE.

---Aaron Christensen, HorrorHound Magazine

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