Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
This is also a Zombie World Tour post!
The Dead Outside
You see them lurking in the large, clear plastic bins. The Movie Collection DVDs. (cue screaming violin music) These are the films that sell four, eight, twelve, even twenty to a box, all for only five bucks. Most of the time they are pure crap, films that are filled with friend-of-the-director actor wannabes and shot on a friend of a friend’s farmland. Most of them will include at least one classic, like Night of the Living Dead or Last Man on Earth. The latter cost literally nothing to the producer of the DVD and might be the nudge that sends the disk home with its new owner.
I found one with four zombie movies on it, and if you’ve ever seen a truly horrible zombie film (and NOTHING stinks up the room like a bad zombie film) you will understand my hesitation – even for five dollars. Then I noticed one of them is Scottish. Well then! I’ve not been to Scotland on the Zombie World Tour and wasn’t even aware such a beast existed.
The first part of the film is totally without dialogue, so it took a while for me realize I needed to go back to the menu and turn on the subtitles. Sure, they are (theoretically) speaking English, but there were several scenes I didn’t quite get because the accents were so thick and turning up the sound didn’t work. Imagine my shock on discovering five dollar disks don’t have subtitles. And maybe it’s a Scotch thing, but this movie is GRIM. The color is faded nearly to black and white, with only the most vivid colors showing pale on screen. Occasionally it pops into vibrancy and I mistook that for A Message From The Filmmaker until I noticed it was actually random. I think. I was often confused. The music is funereal. I don’t remember the actors smiling, even a little, even once. The setting is a dismal old farm house in the middle of a colorless nowhere, though it does have a name: Braehead Farm. No, brae does not actually mean brain in Scottish, but wouldn’t that have been funny?
Besides being often confused by scenes skipping around almost randomly, or suddenly, and not totally understanding the actors’ speech, I was also confounded by the stupid stuff they would do. I know that we are supposed to feel superior to the characters, understanding instinctively that we would handle everything much better, but really, WHO runs out of gas somewhere in the vast countryside after the zombie apocalypse and politely parks ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD? Who then climbs over a barbed wire fence instead of opening the gate and walking through? Who has the great luck to acquire a full gas can after the apocalypse and after using it, flings the can away because he thinks he may have heard something moving somewhere?
Our hero, of course, and I only hit the first ten minutes. So I asked someone I know who is so much smarter with math than me to please create an equation by which we may rate just how big a moron is the show runner of any particular film. Liam Van der Pol came up with this in under five minutes:
In this equation you are solving for T. Low T means the character has little chance of surviving the zombie apocalypse envisioned in a particular movie or book. The Dead Outside is perilously close to flunking Math.
Our low T hero, Daniel, quickly runs up against a gun toting girl named April who I seriously thought was about twelve years old but after some squicky flirtatious eye play, I figured out she was old enough. The action heats up some, but there isn’t a lot of zombie menace. Appropriately, the threat comes almost entirely from human betrayal, and after that begins the movie takes an even uglier turn. This part of zombie fiction the filmmakers understand and portray very well.
The film is subtly shocking, not terribly gory, has one good jump scare, and is unrelentingly bleak. I kinda liked it. I feel it captures the confusion and grievous harm the loss of a world would do to people – even if they’re in the middle of NOWHERE Scotland. If you give this one a chance, though, bring along a Scottish friend to translate for you.