Film Review: Fido

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This engaging little zombie flick showed up in Columbus twice already this year, screening at last spring’s Ohio Science Fiction Marathon and then again at the Deep Focus Film Fest, and now it’s finally shambling back for a longer stay at the Drexel…but not much longer, apparently.

The city’s art-house mini-chain announced to critics and media that Fido would be opening in Columbus tomorrow for a split-run at the Drexel Grandview. As of Thursday afternoon, however, the Drexel’s website has just two showings listed for Fido—Friday and Saturday, October 12 and 13, at midnight at The Gateway. According to second hand info, those are the only screenings the Drexel intends at this point, but we haven’t gotten any formal update.

But longer engagement seems unlikely, as the movie should be available on DVD October 23, and it’s hard to ask people to pay admission to see a movie on a big screen that they can rent, borrow or buy for a fraction of the cost.

It’s too bad, because it really is a pretty great movie, with the sorts of visuals that really should be seen on a big screen.

Let me tell you about it…*

Directed by Andrew Currie from a script by Currie, Robert Chomiak and Dennis Heaton, Fido has an interesting—and decidedly retro—spin on the zombipocalypse story, taking its cues from old-school family television.

A brisk newsreel-meets-Night of the Living Dead classroom filmstrip tells the tale of the long-past zombie wars, during which a cloud of radioactivity from space began reanimating the dead. The living ultimately won out, thanks to benevolent corporation Zomcon’s timely invention of a special collar that makes zombies helpful domestic servants. Kind of like slavery.

Well, slaves are one natural comparison point, the other is pets, which is how or plucky young hero Timmy Robinson (K’Sun Ray) thinks of his family’s new zombie Fido (Billy Connolly, taking cues on a grunt, whine and moan-based performance from Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein).

So what’s the post-zombpocalyptic future look like?

It looks a lot like the 1950s actually, only all brilliant, blazing color instead of Nick at Nite black and white. Moms stay home and wear awesome dresses, neighbors greet each other with pies, men wear hats and smoke pipes, boys play baseball and ride bikes, and the cars are gigantic. Currie and company essentially rebuild post-war America, with the war in question this time around being the zombie war instead of WWII.

The production design is really incredible—sets, costumes, everything is beautiful to look at—and the cast is great, never surrendering to camp, which, given the subject matter, must have had quite a strong gravitational pull, reaching for every aspect of the production.

Rather, everything is done with such skill and conviction that it never feels like a real parody. Ray’s mother is played by Carrie-Ann Moss (in her second suburban mom role of the year so far) and his father by character actor Dylan Baker. Scenes are repeatedly stolen from them all by Tim Blake Nelson, who plays Timmy’s eccentric, cigarette holder-chomping neighbor Mr. Theopolis, who seems a little too…close to his own zombie, Tammy.

The strange conceit of the film adds lots of discussion questions to the ever-increasing body of zombie literature (“God loves zombies too? Even when they kill?” inquisitive Timmy asks), and accomplishes what I wouldn’t have thought possible before viewing—making a fun, funny and slightly heart-warming family film that should appeal both to hardcore zombie fandom and casual viewers.

*This story has been updated since it originally went up this afternoon.

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  • http://www.columbusunderground.com Walker Evans

    I saw this flick at the SciFi marathon. Probably one of my favorite movies all year. Go see it if you haven’t already!