Saturday, January 15, 2011

Horror Film Review...

Dead Meat (2004):  Zombie flick!  From Ireland, no less.  What surprised me the most about this 80-minute cheapie was how good it is.  I watched it not too long after The Last Exorcism (the most disappointing and annoying film since Paranormal Activity) and it restored my faith in horror.  This is why I love doing what I do.  Sure, I have to slog through crap that occasionally makes me want to eat a gun, but when I unexpectedly find a bloody gem, it makes the slog worth it.

What impressed me the most about Dead Meat is its simplicity.  Two main characters, four supporting, and mutant mad cow disease in rural Ireland.  Helena and her boyfriend hit a guy with their car.  They load dead guy in the back, who of course proceeds to bite the boyfriend.  Helena runs to a nearby farm for help and finds nothing but trouble.  The whole farmhouse sequence is very well done, gets your juices going and gets you in the mood for zombie carnage. 

Helena escapes, runs into local gravedigger Desmond (armed with a shovel for the entire movie), and they make a break for his place.  Eventually, they meet a couple with a truck and also a little girl who's on her own.  One half of the couple is played by Eoin Whelan.  He plays his character, a former coach Desmond had in school, with such manic intensity and humor, you can't help but love him, although you may need to turn on the subtitles to understand his heavy accent.  The coach's other half, who sort of already looks like a zombie, gets yanked out of the truck and killed by a zombie cow.  Now that's something you don't see every day.  Thing is, it's not played for laughs.  While it is funny as a concept, the actual scene is pretty tense and scary. 

The radio tells folks where to go for safety.  Desmond, Helena, and the coach head there but end up taking refuge in the abandoned ruins of an ancient castle.  Oh, yeah.  The little girl.  Turns out she'd been bitten so they tossed her out the back of the truck.  Thought you might be wondering.  Anyway, the zombie horde closes in on the castle.  Desmond and the coach fend them off...for a while.  I don't give away endings of movies I like.


Acting:  Way above average.  These guys made a serious effort with their characters and it paid off. 
Story:  Like I said, simple.  Not at all unique, but it doesn't have to be.  Zombie tales shouldn't be complicated.  Remember Night of the Living Dead?  Less really is more. 
Direction:  I loved the pace and claustrophobic feeling director Conor McMahon created.  Some interesting camera work helps keep you off balance and on edge. 
Production Values:  Like they say - location, location, location.  Low budget means shooting outside and in real houses (donated I'm sure) which means no cheap looking studio sets.  The overall look of the film is impressive. 
Gore:  Oh, yes.  A goodly amount of nasitness that pleased me.  And the zombie makeup doesn't suck.  Again, an effort was made. 
Ending:  Well done but a wee bit confusing.  You're not quite sure if it's a happy ending or no. 
Verdict:  So should you see Dead Meat?  Aye.  That you should.

Rating:  4 out of 5

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