Review: Doc of the Dead (EIFF)

DocDeadEIFFDirected by Alexandre O.Philippe

With George A. Romero, Simon Pegg, Bruce Campbell, Robert Kirkman, Max Brooks

A documentary exploring the current vogue for all things zombie…

If you can’t get enough of the current zombie craze, here comes a documentary to fill the gap between Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and The Walking Dead. Alexandre O. Philippe’s film draws in some of the big names from the zombie genre as talking heads, but also seeks to delve into zombie fan culture and the current spate of zombie-mania.

The film is predominantly an overview of zombie cinema, looking back briefly to the classic Hollywood films inspired by Haitian voodoo before presenting an array of clips and talking heads commenting on the Romero films and more recent offerings. To those of us who are already horror or zombie fans, there is probably not much here that will be new, but it does provide a nice entry level synopsis for the new viewer or the mildly curious.

It does perk up at times, but hardly starts to fulfil the promise of the opening sequence which features Bruce Campbell as a newsreader in a spoof zombie apocalypse. I was hoping for rather more of a questioning focus on zombie subculture, the appeal of zombies and the phenomenon of zombie walks, but while these are presented in an eye-catching visual array, as a documentary Doc of the Dead never really gets to grips with why zombies are such a prevalent component of the zeitgeist (a question the zombie filmmakers interviewed for the film raise on several occasions).

There are a few interviews with fans themselves, and what there are of the vox pop variety and seem pretty brainless – perhaps that was the point, but if so it was pretty underhand and tips the film into the ‘point and laugh at the mad fans’ category. There was also a rather bigger question raised by the film, and that is the all-too-brief presentation on the role of zombies in the survivalist and gun cultures in the USA. It is quite chilling to think that effigies of people have become acceptable targets to the gun nuts when they are styled as zombies. But this was passed over rather quickly without much analysis or even commentary. Overall, Doc of the Dead is entertaining enough, but superficial in the main.

Verdict: Good range of clips, smart format, but short on braaaaaains… 6/10

Brigid Cherry

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