Film review by: Witney Seibold
Imagine that instead of Nazis causing all that trouble in the 1940s, it was actually zombies. WWII was actually the Great Zombie War, and the humans won. Well, we didn’t quite wipe out all the zombies, and the dead still spring back up unless they are buried decapitated, but the survivors have set up camp in fenced off 1950s suburban utopias, and a corporate superentity called Zomcon has developed a collar that tames certain zombies so they may be used as free slave labor for affluent families. The zombies don’t really care because, well, they’re zombies.
We are introduced to the Robinson family. Bill (Dylan Baker) is a zombie phobe who would rather golf than spend time with his family. Wife Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) is obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses, and little Timmy (K’Sun Ray) is an outsider who asks too many questions about the zombie’s nature; curiosity is a big no-no in the 1950s. In order to keep up appearances, Helen buys her own zombie (Billy Connolly), which bill hates, and Timmy quickly forms a Lassie-like bond to, naming the ghoul “Fido” and playing ball with it. It’s not long before Fido begins showing signs of character, and the delicate nature of keeping cannibalistic walking corpses in your community becomes all the more delicate. Along the way we meet the amusing neighbor (Tim Blake Nelson, always fun) with his own zombie girlfriend, and the current head of Zomcon (Henry Czerny, rather good) who loves conformity and order even more than the rest of the adults.
Zombies, more than any other horror conceit (well, perhaps they’re neck and neck with the kaiju monsters), have been largely used as political metaphors, so the allusions to slavery and the divide between the wealthy and the working classes are readily apparent. But writer/director Andrew Currie chooses not to hammer us in the face with allegories, and give us, instead, an amusing family comedy. For what is essentially a one-joke movie, “Fido” is surprisingly entertaining. It never drags, is always upbeat, and loves its subject matter just enough to steer itself into subtle satire without being obvious or hamfisted. This means the film may not be as deep, edgy, or penetrating as it could be, but it also means you will be rather amused.
One question that was in my mind throughout the film, though was: Why Billy Connolly? I love the man as a performer and stand-up comedian. He’s usually loud, personal, and hysterically rude. In “Fido” he largely just grunts, and makes puppy dog eyes. He does it well, though. I guess the choice to cast a recognizable face in the part of Fido gives him more humor and more heart right off the bat. Carrie-Anne Moss is also growing on me what with her put-upon mothers in this film and the recent “Disturbia.” It’s nice to know she’s growing past the dull ice queen roles she’s become known for, and is starting to stretch a little more.