Dir: Andrew Currie. Can. 2006. 91mins.
A boy's best friend is his zombie in Fido, areasonably inventive comic film that plays out like a fusion of Shaun Of The Deadand Pleasantville. Andrew Currie'sfeature has enough charm and smart moves to sustain what is essentially aone-joke premise, but its hybrid nature could make it difficult to positioncommercially, with gore elements that are too modest for scary movie regulars yetjust ghoulish enough to give more mainstream audiences a jolt. The clever ironyand wholesome young hero should endear it to general audiences but it mightjust appear too juvenile for the hip horror hard core. Careful handling isclearly required for a film that still has strong cult potential.
At Toronto, Lionsgate - which releases Fido domestically next year - hasclosed worldwide sales for, among others, Japan (Toshiba), France(Metropolitan), Italy (Rai), Mexico and CentralAmerica (Gussi) and Brazil (Paris Filmes);previous deals were announced for the UK (Entertainment) and Scandinavia (AB Svensk).
Set in a suburbanworld that has the look of a Norman Rockwell painting, Fido tells of a time when zombieshave been domesticated and now perform all the endless domestic chores that theliving consider too tiresome. Desperate to keep up with the neighbours,Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) has finally acquired a docile zombie (Billy Connolly)that lonely son Timmy (L'Sun Ray) names Fido. Neglected by his father Bill (Dylan Baker), Timmycomes to view Fido as a mixture of surrogate fatherand playmate, while Fido shows some signs of life inhis craving for a cigarette and appreciation of a woman's smell.
A topsy turvy approach to thezombie genre, Fidogenerates a good deal of merriment and even a touch of pathos from its satireof squeaky clean suburbia and conventional family values. The idea that Fido is a beloved pet is exploited to the full and evenresults in a rescue sequence that mimics classic Lassie tales.
Although he hasno dialogue and spends most of the film shuffling around in slate grey make-up,Billy Connolly uses his eyes to the full as he wins our sympathy for Fido, turning him into a mistreated, misunderstood figure inthe tradition of Frankenstein's monster.
The entire castenthusiastically embrace the cartoon-like tenor of the piece without succumbingto the pitfalls of mugging or playing it too large. The eye-popping productiondesign and bright glow of the cinematography help create a convincing vision ofa Disney world falling into the clutches of a George A Romero nightmare.
The perky storyeventually runs out of steam and resolves everything in a conventional manner.Some audiences might also expect a little more bite to the proceedings butanyone who buys into the initial premise will enjoy the ride.
Lions Gate Films
Lions Gate Films
Mary Anne Waterhouse
Tim Blake Nelson