Directed by Andrew Currie
The entire zombie subgenre has been so over done for so long that I was beginning to worry that there might be no coming back for it. Then, like a good pet who comes when you call him, along comes Fido.
The Canadian import has been talked about for a long time now, discussed in many circles by those lucky enough to see the film at festivals where it’s shown but until last night I had kept just missing it. I got to see the film as part of the Boston Independent Film Festival, a great festival that never seems to get the press it deserves, and I’m happy to say it was worth the wait.
Taking place in an alternate version of the 1950’s in which the Earth has passed through a cloud of space dust that caused all the dead to come back to life, we find ourselves in a world that is more or less run by a company called Zomcon. They’re the ones who managed to develop a technology that can domesticate zombies, somehow suppressing their urge to eat the flesh of the living and making them productive members of society again. The Robinsons are the only family on the block without a zombie, as a matter of fact; a sad actuality that quickly changes when the new Zomcon head of security, Mr. Bottoms (Czerny) moves in.
Young Timmy Robinson (Ray) couldn’t be happier that his mom (Moss) finally got a zombie of their very own (Connolly), naming him Fido and making fast friends with him after he fights off a pair of bullies that have been making Timmy’s life hell. One of the first things you’ll notice about what sets Fido apart from other zombie comedies or just movies in general is how violence is an everyday, expected part of the life of these suburbanites, having the living dead around them at all times and the chances that their own family members could die and rise up against them means that pretty much every man, woman, and child is armed. It’s a stark contrast to the timeframe in which the film is set, which is an era we most commonly think of as an ultra-repressed period where everything was more or less forbidden.
That’s only one of the many things that makes Fido special, though. It’s sense of humor and intelligence are a couple of others; indeed this film answers all the questions you would likely have about such a strange situation through the narrative and it all feels very natural. This is likely because we’re seeing all this through the eyes of Timmy who is a very sharp, caring young man, played to perfection by K’Sun Ray.
Speaking of Timmy, he’s more or less the cause of all the mayhem that goes down in Fido, gentle and sweet as he might be. See, Fido’s collar goes haywire and he kills and eats a neighbor lady before Timmy can get it fixed. He doesn’t tell anyone but Mr. Theopolis (Tim Blake Nelson), a neighbor and former Zomcon employee who quite obviously keeps his zombie around for more than just domestic duties. At first they make this character seem creepy, but he’s more well defined that you would expect, which leads me to another great thing about Fido…
Much like the era in which it’s set, nothing is really what it seems to be in this movie. For example at first we think Timmy’s mom is stuck up, a woman who has been kowtowing to her husband for too long to realize when she’s right. This turns out not to be the case at all as Fido enters their lives and she’s able to show both her son and herself what she’s really capable of. Such character arcs are numerous throughout Fido, making it even more interesting to think about afterwards than your typical zombie and/or comedy fare.
What it comes down to is that Fido is just a damn smart film, whether you want to classify it as a horror or a comedy or a horror/comedy or a zomcom; it just works on almost every level. The setting is inspired and incredibly unique and yet completely believable because it was obvious that the filmmakers really took the time to think about what they were creating rather than just taking what sounded like a funny concept and running with it.
The only problem I see Fido having is all the people who just won’t “get” it. People who think zombie movies should always be straight horror, or people who think movie set in the 50’s have to be pure comedy; Fido is almost too unique for it’s own good. I’m sure good word of mouth will give it the crowds it’s earned by being just that, though.
4 1/2 out of 5
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