Starring: Andrew Tiernan, Mikko Leppilampi, Samuel Lappari
A platoon of American and Finnish soldiers is driven deep into a Russian forest where its Captain discovers a terrifying secret.
Originally called “Stone’s War” (which was the name of one of my favourite Miami Vice episodes by the way) War of the Dead is less a zombie film and shares a little more with Jean Claude Van Dammes’ Universal Soldier. Whilst the antagonists in the movie are dead they’re more akin to the infected in the Danny Dyer movie The Devil’s Playground. For the most part, the dead are only distinguished from the living by their contact lenses and ability to leap around. I might sound a little down on the movie but I’m not because as the cover tag line says; “It’s like an episode of Band of Brothers with zombies”. It’s almost accurate. Let’s get the negative out of the way first. Once again, the cover art depicts a far more exaggerated version of the movie.
There are a couple of planes in the movie and a 50 cal gun, and a tank, but not in the way portrayed by the cover. Whilst not as bad as the cover of The Innkeepers (a shoddy mess of photo shopped images making the movie look like a torture porn movie, complete with Eli Roth quote), it makes the viewer think that the movie is bigger and grander than it is. War of the Dead doesn’t need to be portrayed this way. It works well enough without the dramatic, marketing given here. Even the menu screen gives the impression that the Dead of the movie are akin to the nazi zombies in Dead Snow. Well, they aren’t. The way they look and move is more in line with The Devil’s Playground, giving the movie a more urgent pace similar to the reinterpretation of Dawn of the Dead (It’s not a remake!).
The screenplay is fairly vapid but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the movie. If someone said “Make a film of the Call of Duty World at War Zombies game” then this could easily fit the criteria. Ok, no shuffling zombies but the look and the quality of production could do it. Yet, the film is almost as thrilling as Outpost.
An unlikely leading man, Andrew Tierman does a great job of playing Martin Stone who is caught up in a war that he now hardly recognises. Sure, his accent is a bit dodgy at times but this isn’t a serious War movie that requires a pitch perfect performance. Thematically, you could say that the movie owes something to Outpost in that a device seems to be responsible for maintaining the dead; the origin is underground and the dead attack in relentless waves. The mix isn’t a bad one. I was reminded of the remake of Dawn of the Dead too, from the constant threat of running zombies.
The pace of the movie rarely lets up so much so I thought the movie was one of those 70 minute with credits type of releases: Not so.
Genre mixes don’t always work and don’t appeal to fans of either but the melding of zombies and Wars is a winner. It’s not perfect but it’s miles better than a lot of the low budget zombie movies out there. See it for what it is; a well shot stab at World War 2 zombies.
7 out of 10 (Wayfarer)
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