Every once in awhile a genre movie really comes out of left field, presenting an imagined take on an established format. Whether it’s comedy, action, drama, whatever, sometimes a movie comes that just stands out. Fido is one of those movies. While it may seem like a simple zombie horror/comedy, it’s much more subtle than that. And the attention to detail, the subtle comments, all of it, add to a surprisingly layered viewing experience. Add an incredible likable and relatable zombie, named Fido, and you have a surprisingly sharp little movie. Now, upward and onward to the synopsis!
Welcome to Willard, a small town lost in the idyllic world of the 50’s, where the sun shines every day, everybody knows their neighbor and rotting zombies deliver the mail. And all of this is thanks to ZomCon, keeping everyone protected from the zombie scourge. Following a devastating war between the living and the undead, the corporation ZomCon has domesticated the undead, making them a productive part of society. But is ZomCon really keeping Willard safe? ZomCon’s head of security has moved in across the street from eleven-year-old Timmy Robinson. Timmy’s Mom refuses to be the only housewife on the block who doesn’t have a zombie of her own. When she brings a zombie servant home, Timmy discovers a new best friend, naming him Fido. Even though Dad has a bad case of zombie-phobia, Timmy is determined to keep Fido. Sometimes, it takes a dead man to teach us all what it means to be alive.
A long synopsis, no? And that’s even edited down and rewritten a teeny bit. Regardless of which, above is the basic outline of the movie’s plot. And yes, it does already sound a bit crazy, especially when you add in the 1950’s vibe to it. However, there’s so much more to this movie than what’s on the surface. This movie has layers, all of which becomes abundantly clear as the movie rolls on. Soon after the movie starts up, after we’re introduced to the movie’s back story with an ingenious classroom educational video, we’re introduced more and more into what this movie is really about. Once Zomcon’s head of security starts talking about the “wild zones,” the protective barriers, and citizen “re-education” procedures, it becomes clear that this is more than just a cute zombie comedy taking place in the 1950’s.
No, no, there’s more to it. It becomes almost an allegory for what we, as a society, do the undesirables in our world. Fido says a lot that can be applied to both the social and racial aspects of our society, and he does it with such a subtle manner that if one isn’t immediately hip to the movie’s satire, they can slip right by. There are so many ways to approach this movie, and so many different themes that can be picked up here. Whether it’s the implications of Timmy’s mother wanting a zombie because “everyone else has one,” or the implications of a possible relationship between a person and a zombie, seen as taboo, there’s so much here to grab on to. Thankfully, the cast is able to deliver this satire effectively and convincingly. Add on some remarkable set work and the remarkable precision in replicating the idyllic 1950’s landscape, and you have a movie that works on multiple levels.
Billy Connolly, in particular, does remarkable work as Fido, the zombie at the center of this tale. His performance is simply astounding. He brings so much, adding a depth to his character, something rarely seen in a zombie movie of all places. When he’s on screen, you wonder what he was like before he died (something which is also vocalized in the movie), and hope that, as the final moments come up, he’ll be safe and sound. Just looking at his face, you know there is something more complex buried within.
It’s just a movie that is completely solid across the board. The concept is fresh and original, deserving special recognition among the zombie/horror genre. The actors here, all of them, deliver perfectly, effortlessly slipping back into that idyllic 1950’s world, coming off as people seemingly lost to time. The story itself has so many layers that it bears repeat watching. Below the subtle satire, there’s both a murder mystery story a coming of age story wrangled in there. It’s a simply genius movie from start to finish, with even a few scares, one that everyone should really give a chance to.
And, thankfully, the DVD deserves a chance, too. Fido is presented in a nearly flawless 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with solid audio to boot. The special features and menu layout stay in tone with the movie, delightful and fun. We get a “The Making of Fido featurette, a solid and fun audio commentary, deleted scenes with optional commentary, the trailer, a collection of storyboard, makeup and concept art galleries, and a DVD-Rom “Zombie Creator” feature. Fido‘s score composer also steps in for a select scene audio commentary. While the extras are as extensive as most DVDs released today, this seems to be an example of quality over quantity. There’s little to no fluff here, and the extras material is truly engaging at times. Overall, a tidy collection of extras to compliment a swell little movie.
An ingenious and multi-layered experience, Fido comes Highly Recommended. It’s a movie that really not only has everything, but doesn’t insult your intelligence. There’s layers upon layers to this movie, and even a few gleeful scares along the way to keep any viewer engaged. Add on a great looking DVD and you have not only a great movie-going experience, but a playfully challenging one, as well. Toss on some stellar zombie effects, some great scares, some laugh out loud funny moments, and an overall likable cast, and you have a winner across the board. Fido is one zombie you won’t be ashamed to bring home.
Fido is now available on DVD. Please note the Canadian DVD release of Fido has been delayed until November 6th, 2008.