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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 10/23/2007
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/27/2007
What is a "cult movie"? By definition, a cult movie is a film which has a small, but devoted audience. For the most part, this definition holds true, but there are some films, such as Star Wars, which have been seen my millions of people, that are considered "cult" movies. When we think of cult movies, we usually picture quirky art-house movies, or possibly obscure horror movies. Does a film become a cult movie, or can a cult movie be made? Fido is a good movie to use for this debate.
Fido is set in an alternate version of the 1950s, where a cloud of radioactive gas came from space and engulfed the Earth. This caused the dead to come back to life, and these zombies craved the flesh of the living. A war was fought with the zombies and the living won. A new corporation, Zomcom, arose during this time, making cities secure and creating technology which allowed zombies to be used as slaves.
We meet young Timmy Robinson (K'Sun Ray), a shy boy who lives with his parents, Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Bill (Dylan Baker). In order to keep up with the neighbors, Helen gets a zombie (Billy Connolly), despite the fact that Bill is terrified of zombies. As Timmy doesn't have any friends, he begins to play with the zombie, whom he names "Fido". However, Fido's control collar malfunctions and he kills a woman in the neighborhood. Timmy is horrified by this, not necessarily because of the death, but because he doesn't want to lose Fido, who has become his friend and protector. As Bill is always away at work, or playing golf, Helen also begins to become attached to Fido. How can Billy cover up the death and keep Fido safe?
At times, I struggle to find the correct angle to take when critiquing a film, but with Fido, it's quite easy: The movie will have difficulty finding a nice. On the one hand, the movie wants to be an art-house comedy. The film is full of sly, "wink-wink-nudge-nudge" humor -- the kind of jokes which aren't somewhat clever, but not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny. But, this is a zombie movie, and the gory killing may be a turn-off to the typical art-house crowd. On the other hand, the movie hopes to entice horror fans with that zombie violence, as unlike other "arty" films, Fido makes no bones about the fact that it's a zombie movie. Yet, much of this target audience will have seen Peter Jackson's Dead/Alive (AKA Braindead), which is somewhat similar to Fido, and they will find the movie an also-ran. So, at whom is this movie aimed?
There's no doubting the fact that a lot of work and talent went into Fido. While not 100% original, the film's central concept is interesting and the attention to detail with the likes of the corporate Zomcom is impressive. One can almost see the film's opening as an alternate take on Night of the Living Dead, but one in which things came out on the side of humans. The look of the film is also nice, most notably the use of a faux-Technicolor approach which makes this darkly humorous film very bright and cheery.
But, I felt that much of Fido fell flat. The movie is never scary, as it doesn't try to be -- this is strictly a satirical comedy, albeit one with a dark center. Yet, I never found the movie to be amusing. The zombie slapstick wasn't funny. The idea of Fido being like a dog to Timmy is cute at first, but when the movie reaches the "Go get help, boy!" scene, audiences will either go with it or roll their eyes. I did the latter. The idea of Bill being an absentee father and husband, thus leading Timmy and Helen to grow fond of Fido, may be daring and relevant, but it wasn't funny. In fact, I found it to be pretty creepy...to the point that it made me dislike the film.
While watching Fido, I kept saying to myself, "This really wants to be a cult movie." But, I felt that it was trying too hard for this, and not enough on other important things. The "zombies in the conservative 1950s" echoes Dead/Alive and the movie's jokes fall flat. The talented cast and impressive production design can't overcome the overall lethargic nature of the movie. As a horror fan, I like the idea of a "respectable" zombie spoof, but Fido has no bite.
Fido rises from the grave and onto DVD courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks very good, as the picture is quite sharp and clear. There is no notable grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look especially good here, as the film has a very bright and colorful palette. This look works well on this transfer, and these scenes are never overly bright. I saw some mild artifacting at times, but otherwise the transfer is solid. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, and the action scenes are enhanced with a nice dollop of surround sound and subwoofer effects, but never enough to overwhelm the dialogue.
The Fido DVD contains a handful of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with director Andrew Currie, producer Mary-Anne Waterhouse, and Carrie-Anne Moss. This is a fairly standard chat, as the three talk about the story and the actors, with Currie paying attention to the look of the film. "Fido Family Portraits" includes Conceptual Art Gallery, Billy Connolly's Transformation, and Fido's Storybook, which is a 4-minute retelling of the movie in the style of a children's book. "Making of Fido" (5 minutes) is a brief featurette which offers some comments from the cast and filmmakers and some behind-the-scenes footage. There is a "Blooper Reel" (2 minutes). In "Select Scene Audio Commentary with Don McDonald" (28 minutes) the composer talks about the music in certain scenes and his working relationship with director Andrew Currie. The DVD contains 6 DELETED SCENES which can be viewed with optional commentary from the director. All are brief and insignificant, save for one, which runs 11 minutes and introduces an entire idea which was excised from the film. The final extra is the Theatrical Trailer.
Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long