- TV Mini Series
During a fictional series of Big Brother, a zombie outbreak occurs, but the house-mates are unaware of the impending doom outside of the Big Brother House.During a fictional series of Big Brother, a zombie outbreak occurs, but the house-mates are unaware of the impending doom outside of the Big Brother House.During a fictional series of Big Brother, a zombie outbreak occurs, but the house-mates are unaware of the impending doom outside of the Big Brother House.
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.
- Nov 2, 2008