The zombie film “Follow the Dead” has more on its mind than just brains.
The Irish comedy marks the latest addition to the over-stuffed genre, but those hungry for clever kills and gore will come away disappointed.
“Follow the Dead” cares more about its deeply flawed heroes and how Millennials might process a city swamped by the undead.
Spoiler alert: They’re not prepared, a point the film makes in a gentle, but impressive fashion.
Robbie (Luke Corcoran) interrupts what appears to be a successful date by sneaking a peek at his Tinder-style app. She glances at her phone and sees video zombie-like creatures attacking people in nearby Dublin.
It’s just a prank, he assures her, setting the film’s Fake News-style commentary in motion. What do we believe these days, and what should be dismissed as an attempt at viral infamy?
Robbie’s mates, one of whom proudly wears a Bernie Sanders T-shirt, are similarly confused by the videos flooding their phones. The local government summons them to a town hall-style meeting that does little to calm their nerves.
Meanwhile, a band of masked-up anarchists uses the distraction for its own purposes.
The film uncorks a subplot involving an immigrant-run bar, a thread that intersects with the societal chaos and grants the story texture. The film’s wry humor, which starts with that doomed date and never relents, flows from its cheeky cast.
Director Adam William Cahill isn’t content to rest on genre staples. His “Dead” examines the cultural reaction to a possible undead outbreak more than serving up B-movie theatrics. His budget may be minuscule, but the film’s ambitions soar beyond the humble production design.
Dark Irish comedy Follow the Dead is an award winning chiller lighting up the festival circuit. We spoke to the films director Adam William Cahill about horror and more: https://t.co/CkXcY2P7v6 pic.twitter.com/VaCSDquMy8
— LoveHorror.co.uk (@LoveHorror) April 10, 2022
The film suffers from pacing problems early on, and viewers may not sense where the story is heading. Soon, Robbie’s man-child past comes into focus, as does his relationship with Kate (Cristina Ryan), a police officer juggling her feelings for him and the zombie threat.
“Shaun of the Dead” also showed a slacker realizing he needs to grow up, and fast if he wants to survive. “Follow the Dead” is more expansive, suggesting Millennials lean on government handouts while their lives, and agency, decay.
That leaves them unprepared for what life has in store for them. A zombie apocalypse is the worst-case scenario, of course, but these young men and women could be swamped by much, much less.
In a way, they already are.
Liv (Marybeth Herron) cares more about her Influencer career than living a fully-realized life. The Chi (Tadhg Devery) has little ambition beyond hanging with his mates. The kind-hearted Jay (Luke Collins) is content to collect government checks.
The zombie film genre continues to deliver in ways we rarely expect. “The Last of Us” is the new “Walking Dead,” and indies like “Follow the Dead” remind us these shuffling ghouls still have plenty to say.
HiT or Miss: “Follow the Dead” is the latest twist to the zombie genre, a droll dissection of Millennial angst.