Fido (2006)

Zombies pose significant problems in making a work of art; unlike vampires they don’t readily become especially compelling metaphors for any part of human nature(though Shaun of the Dead tried to play that angle with some success). When a filmmaker tries to bring out some relevant human concern in a zombie film, it usually turns into a lazy Twilight Zone style commentary on how “the real monsters are us”. The best zombie films, like Evil Dead 2 realize the inherent absurdity in their premise and turn into cartoonish slapstick, which still doesn’t make for much beyond forgettable entertainment. Director Andrew Currie attempted to pull this trick off here. He lacks the chops.

So then why does the zombie hold such widespread and fervent appeal? The best guess I can make is that the zombie genre has the most rigidly codified stylistic rules of any type of film. This makes it a comforting thing to adherents; a genre with so little depth as to leave no one out for lack of critical eye. All novelties in zombie films are blatantly on the surface(ex.: the zombies are gangsters or one fights a shark) and the genre adherents can converse afterwards in such piercing critical appraisals as “Wow wasn’t that so awesome when the zombie fought a shark?!”.

As these films go, Fido is vaguely watchable, but still utterly dispensable and unworthy for anyone who values their time. The whole film is a series of winking references to other parts of the popular culture. This rewards a viewer’s vanity by making them feel smart for knowing things that most people already know. The bright palette and solid colored outfits reference 50s technicolor films, the boy meets dog story references TV fare like Lassie, and the parodies of cold war educational films featuring zombies achieve little beyond pointing out how wacky the 50s(roughly mirrored in its cultural products) were. 50 years late. This is not (excuse the pun) biting satire.

The zombie named Fido who the audience is expected to sympathize with kills an elderly neighbor early in the film. The death is minimized however by the elderly woman’s quick caricatured shrewish portrayal. Similarly, two classmates of the protagonist Timmy are killed later in the film but no real reaction of any sort is achieved in the audience. Like a video game, the film simply sets up targets, drains the audience of any compassion or sympathy for them, and then simply discards them for laughs. The father’s very reasonable fear that this creature that could potentially kill his loved ones is laughed off by the film.

Fido the zombie is carted around like a pet dog through the suburbs. Another in the long line of films dealing with the perceived “other” by means of infantilizing them to make them less threatening.

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