Written by: jmh314
Ever since Shaun of the Dead came out in 2004, the horror-comedy has been the hot style of horror film to make. While horror-comedies are nothing new, Shaun of the Dead seemingly brought it back to the forefront. When I heard there was a new horror-comedy named Fido in the works, I was ready for it. Unfortunately when it finally arrived, I am not quite sure what I saw was comedy, let alone horror. Think of it as a film starring a family like the Cleavers living with a dangerous pet like in Unleashed, in a town like Pleasantville. Add that all up and what do you get? A slow moving yawnfest that doesnt even stand up with middle of the pack horror-comedies.
Fido opens up as one of those old-fashioned "how to" type projection style films. We learn that a giant space cloud of radiation engulfed Earth and caused the first outbreaks of Zombies. This led the world to fight what is known as the Zombie War. A company called ZomCon discovers that by destroying the brain, zombies can be stopped which helped lead to a victory over the Zombies in the war. After the Zombie War, the world has been separated into two areas: Your normal everyday suburbia and "wild zones". Wild zones are areas where zombies rule the vast wasteland. In order to keep out these dangerous zombies, towns are surrounded by perimeter fences to keep the citizens safe. Unfortunately for those inside these communities, it turns out that there was still radiation in the air. Therefore, no matter the cause of death, newly dead humans would reanimate and turn into zombies. In steps ZomCon again and this time they develop a collar that domesticates zombies. With these collars, zombies now are enslaved to do everyday tasks from gardening to milk and newspaper deliveries.
The film ends, and we learn that the informative film was "new" as the story takes place in the early 50's. The film was shown to a classroom that contains our main character, young Timmy Robinson. We learn that Timmy thinks zombies are still alive and questions the practices of ZomCon. As Timmy comes home, his mother has a surprise for him and his father. Upon Mr Robinsons return home, Mrs Robinson reveals their new zombie servant. Mr Robinson is angry and Timmy seems indifferent. We come to find out that Mrs Robinson got a zombie because they were the only family in the neighborhood who didnt have one. Mr Robinson does not like zombies, but finds pleasure knowing he can shock the zombie through a remote that transmits to his controlling collar.
Timmy is not a popular boy and gets picked on. After unsuccessfully trying to play catch with his new zombie, Timmy heads to the park where he runs across his bullies. Just when Timmy looks like he is going to get hurt, we see his zombie followed him there and saves the day. And so begins Timmy's friendship with his new zombie, which he decided to name Fido. Unfortunately Fido's collar sometimes malfunctions and he turns into a full, raging zombie and begins to kill. Only Timmy knows his zombie is behind recent killings. With his involvement, the punishment for such crimes would Timmy's whole family being sent out into a "wild zone". With his friendship growing stronger with Fido everyday, Timmy decides he must protect the truth about his zombie friend at all costs.
I must admit, the storyline seems rather original. The problem is the storyline drags out without any real excitement. Writer/Director Andrew Currie did a terrible job in keeping my interest, and this 90 minute film seemed to go on forever. The time period of the film was a good choice, as not many zombie films takes place in 1950's suburbia. However, I came to believe it was done in the 50's so it can be seen as uneventful and blind to social problems all around them.
The thing that saves this film from completely tanking is the actors. A great cast did all they could to make their characters their own. Carrie-Anne Moss was great as the housewife with a heart of gold who wants to be her own woman and not the woman her husband wants her to be. Dylan Baker does a good job of playing the neurotic and paranoid father who thinks zombies are the worse possible thing and wants nothing to do with being a zombie after he dies. Young K'Sun Ray was good as Timmy. He played a socially distant boy very well and was able to act like he was a sad kid who is happy to have a zombie as his only friend. I also loved the role of Tim Blake Nelson as the crazy neighbor who has dressed his zombie up to act like his sexy girlfriend. The one role that I thought was going to be great was that of comedian Billy Connolly. However, he wasnt as funny of a zombie as I would have expected. He doesnt vary his grunting much and did little to make this zombie seem different. I figured this would be the one sure fire comedic role, and it provided very little humor whatsoever.
The action in this film nonexistant for the mostpart, and the little blood and violence that is given to us by Director Andrew Currie is uninspiring. The blood effects are boring versions of things we have seen before, and they were so infrequent you thought he may have wanted to do something to spice them up a bit. The make-up was sub-par as all it seems like they did was paint all zombies with a silverish color to make them look dead. The sets and props were pretty good as the 50's were captured to what I believe to be a good rendition, but hey I am a child of the 80's, so my vision of the 50's could be wrong. The sound effects and music fit the time period, but never really did anything to stand out.
Overall, I just think Fido was a sub-par film. I thought it moved at a snails pace and didnt provide much in the way of horror. The storyline and timeframe of the movie seemed like it would set this apart but it ultimately falls very flat. Even with the stellar performances by this great cast, I found myself not caring about any of them or the storylines they developed. The relationship formed between Timmy and Fido seemed all too much like a cheesy Lassie storyline. The comedic parts were few and very far between and I am not even sure I ever laughed out loud once during the film. Maybe I just dont get the joke but I wonder how this can be billed as comedy. I found Fido to be nothing more than a slow-paced, sleep inducing zombie film that is mediocre at best. Maybe Shaun of the Dead set the horror-comedy bar too high, but even if thats true Fido would still have caused the genre to take a big step backwards. The next time I go see a horror-comedy, I am really hoping I get at least one of those two things.