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Film / The Dead

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The Dead is a low-budget 2010 British horror film by Indelible Productions.

U.S. Air Force engineer Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) is the sole survivor of a plane crash, finding himself washed ashore on the African continent. He's far from home, low on supplies, cut off from all contact with the outside world, in one of the most dangerous places on Earth, and he just wants to get back to America and be with his family. Unfortunately for him, he's also found himself trapped smack in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse, making the continent all the more dangerous for him.

At the time of its release it was considered just another sub-par zombie movie but the fan reaction was intense making it highly popular and successful.

The film is unique compared to other zombie movies, not so much for what it features but what it doesn't feature. Gore is kept to a minimum, and a slow and agonizing buildup of tension is utilized instead of cheap and cliche jump scares; before the movie is over the audience is practically begging for the random zombie to pop up with an accompanying scare chord.

Not to be confused with the 1987 film of the same name directed by John Huston. A less successful sequel, The Dead 2: India, was released in 2013.

The Dead include examples of:

  • America Saves the Day: Averted. The film opens with America and the rest of the world abandoning Africa, pulling out their aid workers and leaving everybody else to their fate. At the end, it's revealed that the Zombie Apocalypse has enveloped the entire globe, and America is no better off than anywhere else, meaning that Brian's chances of rescue are nil.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Many people fall victim to this, such as the elderly lady in Daniel's village, who survives long enough to let him know his son was rescued by the army, then promptly dies from her injuries. A few moments later she stands up and starts to shamble towards him, forcing him to kill her. Daniel is nearly subjected to this himself, though it's implied Brian shot him after he died but before he became a zombie.
  • Apocalypse How: The end of the movie suggests the Class 3 category.
  • A-Team Firing: Most African soldiers appear to be shooting from the hip, though they mostly stick to single fire rather than laying down copious amounts of rounds downrange. And to their credit, they do have a fairly high rate of critical hits.
  • Ate His Gun: One of the soldiers in the plane gets bitten in the arm by a man who succumbs to his injury, then bites him shortly after. He kills the zombie, then turns the gun on himself shortly afterwards.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Justified, as the movie takes place in Africa.
  • Black Cloak: Brian invokes this trope as he's crossing the desert portion of Africa, though it's more for protection from the sun than anything else.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Daniel pulls this off magnificently when he arrives just in time to save Brian from being eaten after his truck gets stuck. Subverted with Brian when he first reaches the refugee camp. The remaining humans hear gunfire, and they see him successfully make his way into their camp. Unfortunately they're very low on supplies themselves, and have no weapons there. Additionally, the one contact he manages to make informs him that zombies are also in America, and they're facing a Last Stand themselves.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The film ends on this note. Brian manages to get Daniel's medallion to his son, who's still alive, and the screen fades to black as the two look on at the zombies encroaching on them.
  • Boom, Headshot!: As per usual, the only way to really kill a zombie.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. All players are careful not to expend ammunition freely, and by the end both Brian and Daniel are running out of ammo and relying on Daniel's machete.
  • Car Fu: Brian resorts to this to take out a zombie in order to gain access to its canteen and possibly other supplies. Later on, it's averted when he says he's worried he'll bust the truck's axle. They also accidentally run into a few zombies this way, mostly while driving at night.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Brian mentions he's an engineer and can repair broken things. He manages to get the jeep fixed enough to drive it, and later fixes the broken radio communicator after reaching the refugee camp.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Averted, Daniel is a good guy just trying to reach his son to protect him, and we encounter several others at a village who've done the same thing, and are successfully defending their homes and families, and provide some aid to Daniel and Brian. Even the solider who washes ashore from the plane crash with Brian and abandons him as the zombies approach never poses a threat to anyone although that may be because he got turned before getting very far.
  • Darkest Africa: This trope is toyed with a lot here. While trucks, electricity, and radio equipment are all present, a lot of the scenes still take place in remote villages that look untouched by the modern world.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Daniel suffers this after he and Brian are attacked by zombies and he is bitten several times in the process. Brian suffers his after he manages to contact a US military base, only to learn that the zombies have also overrun America and his wife and daughter are dead.
  • Doomed Hometown: Daniel's village is attacked at the beginning of the film. While soldiers try to fight them off and rescue some of the villagers, the vast majority of them are killed. Hearing the last survivor mention his son was rescued prompts Daniel to go in search for him.
  • Downer Ending: Brian Murphy learns that he's not getting out of Africa, his family is dead, and the zombie outbreak has reached America. And right after that, the walls of the refugee center he's taken shelter in collapse, and the undead horde forces its way in and begins killing everyone. Although it isn't shown, it's implied that he and Daniel's son die with the rest of the refugees.
  • Eaten Alive: Many people fall victim to this, and the screams they let out as they're being devoured don't help any. This includes Daniel, who gets attacked after he and Brian fall asleep and fail to hear the sound trap they laid around their campfire to alert them of zombies.
  • Enemy Mine: The military officer Brian and Daniel see in the first human village they run into says that there are soldiers from both sides of the war that are now working together to defeat a common enemy, the zombies.
  • Fanservice: Daniel and Brian are both featured shirtless and muscular (and even glistening) as they refresh at a watering hole.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Turning into a zombie. A few characters are mercy-killed or commit suicide before they can turn into one.
  • A Father to His Men: The leaders of both groups of African-soldiers (mentioned under The Remnant, and Dangerous Deserter) care about their men.
  • Foreshadowing: The opening scene features an infected man dying and reanimating aboard the plane. It can be inferred that infected aid workers returning home is possibly how the zombie outbreak reached America.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Blood and gore is kept to a relative minimum considering the context of the film.
  • Hope Spot: A few occur in the film, mostly when Brian and Daniel manage to restart the jeep until the axle breaks. Another occurs after he manages to fix a broken communications radio and manages to reach a US army general. He then learns things aren't much better in the US, and his family is likely dead to boot.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with Brian in the Sahara desert, then flashes back to the plane crash and everything in between.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Zigzagged. Averted with the infant in the plane that Brian is on when it crashes, as it's assumed to have either died when the plane hit the water, or drowned shortly thereafter. Played straight later when he runs into an injured woman who is trying her best to flee some zombies. She hands her baby to him, and begs for a Mercy Kill, which he eventually relents to. Later a convoy carrying refugees passes by, giving him an opportunity to hand the baby off to someone who could take better care of it than he could. Averted again at the end, when the zombies break through the wall and attack the refugee camp filled with civilians. Interestingly, no child zombies are shown in the film.
  • Jump Scare: Almost nonexistent, but there are moments like this such as when Daniel and Brian find a barricaded door into a missionary's house.
  • Machete Mayhem: Brian and Daniel each take turns dispatching several zombies with a machete, to save on ammo and to keep the commotion to a minimum.
  • Made of Plasticine: Averted for most of the film, but played straight near the end as Brian hacks and slashes his way through a horde of zombies to get over the walls of the refugee center.
  • Man of the City: Brian and Daniel encounter an army officer who is leading several men in defending their hometown. The officer is determined to keep his people safe, but also refuses to evacuate to a better-defended area (although it turns out to be a Safe Zone Hope Spot) due to his connection with the area and determination to help the village survive along with its residents.
  • Men of Sherwood: Only three of the soldiers and deserters from the unnamed African country (implied to be Ghana) the protagonist is stranded in get much dialogue or screen time, but almost every soldier who appears is evacuating civilians to defended areas, defending their homes, or killing zombies, and doing so effectively. Any serious failures they do experience are only because there are more zombies than the soldiers have bullets.
  • Mercy Kill: Brian does this to a severely injured woman who's about to be eaten, as well as to Daniel to keep him from turning after he's bitten.
    • A woman also suffers this fate when the army convoy stops briefly to rescue fleeing humans. The first one is okay and is allowed onto the truck, but the second woman who was clearly limping from bites she suffered is immediately killed. Considering the alternative of becoming a zombie, this was probably a better fate for her.
  • Morton's Fork: Brian and Daniel argue whether to use the last bit of their water to serve as coolant for the engine. Daniel doesn't think it's worth the risk, but Brian argues that wouldn't make it very far on foot. With some zombies approaching them, Daniel relents, but Brian ends up having to use the last water in both of their canteens.
  • No Indoor Voice: Daniel deliberately invokes this to force Brian to turn on the truck's headlamps so they can see their surroundings.
  • Not a Zombie: The zombies present can easily pass for humans as there are few telltale signs of their status. The only clues to their true nature are whited out irises and whatever injuries they may have suffered.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The exact cause of the undead outbreak is never explicitly stated. Bite transmission suggest the plague variety, but the planet being overrun would suggest the Romero variant is at work.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: Justified in at least two examples:
    • The plane at the beginning of the film that Brian and some other Westerners are on runs out of fuel because they were forced to take off before completely filling it up. Consequently they're forced to land the plane, but almost everyone dies when it crashed into the ocean.
    • The jeep that Brian and Daniel drive around is extremely old, and stops a few times due to running out of gas and coolant, forcing the two to search for fuel or use their last bit of water to use as coolant. Later they accidentally drive down into a ditch, which then breaks the axle and forces them to go on foot from that point on.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: the leaders of both groups of African soldiers, and Frank, Brian's commanding officer back in American when they briefly reach him on the radio.
  • The Remnant: Daniel's son is being protected in a compound still manned by African soldiers. They do a fairly good job, but they only have so much ammunition.
  • Remember the New Guy?: A woman who Brian sees drowning on after the plane crashes, and two soldiers who was up ashore with him and are quickly set on by zombies weren't seen sitting with the other survivors before the plane actually went down.
  • Road Trip Plot: The film follows Brian's journey north from the coastal plane crash site to the Saharan military base.
  • Room Full of Zombies: Encountered by Daniel and Brian in one of the villages.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot:
    • The military base the heroes spend most of the film traveling to turns out to be surrounded by zombies, who are weakening the walls while the soldiers inside are almost out of bullets.
    • The United States of America turns out to be a national example, as Brian thinks it is safe from zombies and his government can send a plane to rescue him, but the nation has severe zombie problems of its own.
  • Sole Survivor: Brian becomes this with the plane he was on. Initially there are three others who survived the plane crash, but one drowns before he can save her, another man is severely injured and eaten by zombies shortly after, and the third survivor takes off on his own, only reappear as a zombie later. Daniel later gets bitten and severely injured, forcing Brian to once again go solo.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The zombies fill this role. Though it's not an individual zombie chasing after Brian and Daniel, they are so widespread that there's almost always at least a few of them no matter where the two travel. Consequently there are hardly any areas where they can truly feel safe aside from the first human village they run into.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Subverted. Brian is trying to contact his friend Frank to be one of these, but it's almost the end of the movie by the time he does, and Frank is unable to offer him any help due to being busy dealing with zombies himself.
  • Wasteland Elder: Amidst the Zombie Apocalypse, Brian and Daniel visit a village being run by a middle-aged army officer. He explains that and his men deserted from the army to protect their hometown.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Whatever the cause of the undead plague has caused the entire world to be overrun, not just Africa. America has fallen as has everywhere else, and there's nowhere safe left to fall back to.
  • Zombie Apocalypse Hero: Murphy is just a mechanic whose plane crashes deep in zombie territory (Darkest Africa, to be specific), but he becomes adept at shooting, slashing, and running over zombies, especially while working alongside local soldier Daniel.
  • Zombie Gait: And how. The zombies present move so slowly that Romero's zombie can easily cover more distance. However, this slow pace allows them a greater degree of stealth as they search out a meal, and makes them almost undetectable in terms of audio cues. Plus, they don't have to sleep, so as slow as they are, they can still catch humans at night. And due to their relative silence, they are often able to get close enough to attack Brian and Daniel, including when the two fall asleep and fail to notice their sound trap as zombies slowly sneak up on them. While Brian barely survives, Daniel is bitten several times.