Fido (DVD)

Made in 2006 and shelved since, Fido is a very curious beast. The concept for the film sounds good. It’s a re-imagined 1950s America in which a war broke out after space dust was dropped on the planet, which had the side effect of creating zombies. These zombies were defeated by the humans, tamed and now are used by the folk in the suburbs as slaves and by the rest for everyday employment like being milkmen or newspaper boys. We follow young Timmy (Ray), a somewhat friendless child whose father (Baker) doesn’t spend any time with him and whose school chums exist seemingly only to bully him.

His mother (Moss), a more free-spirited sort than his uptight father, decides they need to keep up with the Joneses and gets her family a zombie slave (Connolly) to help around the house. Timmy dubs the zombie Fido and becomes friendly with it, somewhat to the consternation of neighbour Mr Bottoms who heads the government group charged with dealing with the zombie threat. After Fido attacks an elderly neighbour, Timmy has to go to great lengths to save his new friend. But while the pitch is reasonably interesting, the execution is all over the place. The script appears to have aspirations of satire, either on consumerism or the middle classes, but it never aims in on anything with any real piercing acerbity and therefore any satire is either undercooked or falls flat.

The other side of the narrative seems to be a kind of skewed boy-and-his-dog bonding story that explores the need for companionship and friendship, but with a zombie instead of a dog. That part of the plot too though doesn’t quite work, partly because Ray isn’t really cute enough in the role, playing Timmy as a brattish loner rather than a sweet, unloved soul. You can never quite feel the level of sympathy needed to really get on his side and so the central, somewhat undercooked arc never quite makes it. Having said all these negative things however, this is a film with a heap of invention. There’s a dark undertone, particularly in the relative brutality of the zombie attacks while the sense of humour, most notably with Nelson’s neighbour and his zombie concubine, is nice and leftfield. If none of its aims are quite met, it’s an admirable failure and one that just about deserves the time of viewers. It’s the kind of film that if you fully buy into the concept, you may well love and has the potential for cultdom in its future. 

EXTRAS ** A blooper reel with maybe one chuckle and some understandably deleted scenes.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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