Marcus is driving along a country road when he sees Daria hitchhiking and picks her up. Soon it becomes clear that they're both running from something, do they share the same destiny, or will fate tear them apart?
It's eviction night at the Big Brother house, but something very strange is happening; the dead are coming alive and attacking the living. When zombies attack all of the audience outside, the Big Brother contestants are unaware of the death outside the fan-proof (and zombie-proof) big brother house until the show's runner, Kelly, comes into the house and warns them of the doom outside. Stuck with even less contact with the outside world, the house-mates must sneak out of the house to get supplies, without being seen by the zombies. Written by
Charlie Brooker makes a cameo as a zombie. See more »
Kelly runs outside and jumps into a blue truck. When she realizes the keys aren't in the ignition, she gets out and slams the trucks door shut. In the next shot the door is suddenly wide open. See more »
For such an incredibly pervasive cultural icon (who doesn't have a Zombie Survival Plan?), the zombie is incredibly poorly represented by cinema. Most zombie films are terrible. In fact, the only zombie films that can really rank as classics even in horror movie terms are the first three Romero films. Beyond that you've got a band of competent efforts: some of the remakes of Romero, the comedy zombie films (Return of the Living Dead, Braindead etc.), the variations on the theme (Dario Argento's Demons, 28 Days Later, Versus) and Lucio Fulci's Zombie. All told that's less than a dozen films. Just about everything else has been terrible and I mean really terrible. Some of the worst cinema ever made is about zombies, most of it either zero-budget American dross or the worst Italy has to offer.
With that in mind, Charlie Brooker's mini-series-cum-TV-movie Dead Set stands out from the pack by miles as a treatment of zombies which is actually very good. It's very well written, mixing realistic dialogue, spot-on satire of reality TV contestants and dark humour without ever getting the tone wrong. It's gory enough to please any splatter fan, with the first competent "ripped apart by zombies" scene in ages, and it manages to create an authentic mood of apocalyptic despair, with the collapse of society sharply depicted. Brooker even manages to fit some decent social commentary into the mix, and does it in a far more holistic and subtle manner that George Romero's latest attempt. Zombies-as-metaphor has always been the preferred way to impart depth onto the death, and Brooker puts in enough subtext about the braindead masses and their mindless consumption of TV and cinema to give you something to talk about afterwards other than the gore effects, should you so wish.
What holds Dead Set back somewhat is its acquiescence to cliché. Like most 21st Century zombie outings, it's packed full of references, most of them to Romero, and the ultimate direction of the plot should be familiar to anyone who's ever watched a zombie film. Many of the shocks and outcomes to scenes will be utterly sign-posted to any fan of zombies, and even the gore effects are content to merely copy the work of Savini et al rather than strike out in his spirit of finding ever-more innovative mutilation of the human form. The over-use of shaky-cam is a more stylistic example of its unoriginality: using wobbly hand-held cameras to create that gritty documentary realism may have been original in 1998 in Saving Private Ryan, but in the decade since then it's been done to absolute death (excuse the pun).
While it does nothing new, Dead Set is still a triumph because it does the old far more proficiently than most have managed. And it's nice to see a British backdrop to the nightmarish apocalypse once again.
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