Friday, October 05, 2012

Horrorfest Classics—Fido (2006) ***½

Timmy Robinson: K’Sun Ray
Fido: Billy Connolly
Helen Robinson: Carrie-Anne Moss
Bill Robinson: Dylan Baker
Mr. Theopolis: Tim Blake Nelson
Mr. Bottoms: Henry Czerny

Lionsgate presents a film directed by Andrew Currie. Written by Robert Chomiak & Currie & Dennis Heaton. Based on a story by Heaton. Running time: 93 min. Rated R (for zombie-related violence).

Zombies have recently become one of the most popular subgenres of horror. The great thing about zombies is that proliferation is one of their primary attributes. You can keep on killin’ ‘em and we’ll make more! The makers of the zombedy “Fido” remember when the world was fueled with the same gumption that fuels that mentality. People are gosh darned determined not to allow the zombies to get them down in this movie.

The set up is hard to describe briefly, but I will do my best. “Fido” takes place in a 1950s Americana type of Cold War environment where instead of the threat of nuclear war, zombies have overrun the world. Taking place a generation removed from the Zombie Revolution, people live idealistic suburban existences in fenced in communities where the citizens are content to pretend the threat of zombie attacks are a thing of the past and even keep zombies as live-in servants. Owning a zombie is a sign of higher social status. If one family has six zombies and another has one, it is easy to tell which one is more important to the community’s existence.

The whole thing is a critique on American society and our dependence on conveniences. In our theoretically classless society, where somehow everyone is included in the middle class, from our underpaid teachers all the way up to our oil tycoons, we are increasingly becoming more defined by the varying amounts of conveniences we can acquire. Lawn services, automatic lighting, cars that can parallel park themselves, these things are becoming what we define ourselves by, rather than the pure family values we claim are the heart of what make this country great.

What’s more, we are playing with fire with how dependent we have become on these conveniences. It is more important to us that they exist than what the consequences are in utilizing them. The impact of fossil fuels on our environment is the easiest parallel to draw to the zombies of “Fido”. Why does our dependence continue so insistently when there is such danger to the environment and so many other alternatives out there?

The movie even touches upon our country’s immigration issues. Who would cut our grass if we got rid of our zombies? Sound familiar? “Fido” dives into many issues that are being discussed in our society and many that are not. Consider the flirting that goes on between the hero family’s mother and their zombie. Fidelity. Interracial couples. Gay marriage. Subversive sexual habits. Will these topics ever be resolved in a society so obsessed with the family values it so clearly lacks?

However, like any good satire, all these issues are not directly referenced in the movie itself. The movie plays like a twisted version of “Pleasantville” where people are always smiling and zombies are ever present in their lives, but never considered a threat. The zombies are always in the background, and everyone acts like this is the way it’s always been.

Zombies are hardly the cruelest things in this world. There are still bullies and corporate corruption. A family acquires the lead zombie, the titular Fido, after new neighbors move in owning no less than six zombies. The father is afraid of zombies because he had to behead his own father who turned when he was only eleven. The kid is desperate to find a friend and Fido, as evidenced by the name given to him by the boy, is more like a beloved pet than an undead servant. The mother, who cannot even get her husband to notice that she is obviously with child, projects the love she desires from her mate onto Fido. Fido even shows some ability to show affection back toward these people, even after he begins a new zombie outbreak in the town.

Director/Co-Writer Andrew Currie perfectly captures the “Leave It to Beaver” feel of a 1950’s television show with the throwback production design and a wonderful “apple pie” delivery by his entire cast. Billy Connolly also adds quite a bit of humor to the movie with his speechless performance as Fido. Since being a zombie restricts the character, using a comedian like Connolly is a smart choice in gaining an upper hand on the usually dark nature of the zombie motif. This is a dark comedy that plays like a lighthearted one, creating a subversive vehicle for delivering the artists’ biting (pun intended) social commentary.


Horror Movie Medication said...

Great review. I like the way you think. Personally, I think this movie has all the right things going for it. Amazing cast, great cinematography, unique premises and lots of laughs. I think it's great to see a zombie-apocalypse movie where humanity is improved as a result. What would you do with your own zombie servant? I'd get him to fold laundry. I have laundry.

I also got the chance to review this movie on my Horror Movie Review blog. Take a look if you get a chance, I can always use some feedback from another critic.

Andrew Wells said...

Thanks. I checked out you site, and I think its great. I'll be visiting again.

Fido is just a wonderful zombie movie. I had reviewed it a while ago in a mini review for my annual Horrofest, which consists of watching nothing but horror films throughout the month of October each year. The a friend who publishes an E-zine called Zombie Apocalypse Monthly asked me to expand my review to be featured in one of his issues. This is that review. The best part of all that was it was an excuse to watch Fido again.

And to answer your question... well, your answer is pretty damn good. There isn't a soul in this house who likes doing laundry. Perhaps it takes a person without a soul to do it.