Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Ride into Atlanta on a horse called Blade

Frank Darabont's name is all over The Walking Dead. Writer, director, developer (although I'm not sure what that last one means). The adverts scream Shawshank Redemption at you, but this seems to have more in common with his 2007 monstery film The Mist. In the first episode Officer Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to find the world a lot more dead than it used to be. It's a 'post-zombie' apocalypse - all the action has already happened and now we're seeing the aftermath. The hero waking up in hospital may be a familiar scenario, but it's very effective. His first steps out into the blood-stained body-strewn corridors are gripping. Nothing's more creepy than a deserted hospital, after all. What will his first reaction be? What will he do first? He makes his way home past lots of bad things to find his wife and son are missing. So far it's more drama than horror. There may be a lot of intestinal bits flying about, but it chooses characters over quick scares. Rick goes back to find a half-eaten zombie women he'd met earlier to put her out of her misery. Another survivor has to choose whether to 'put down' his zombie wife. He can't quite manage it. The sunny American south makes for an eerie and oddly pleasant setting. The quiet countryside towns are only dotted with the undead. They quietly wander around without much trouble and congregate at night to look more menacing. There's plenty of wide shots of deserted roads and quiet desolation. The green fields seem wonderful until someone comes across an overturned car, or an eaten horse, or a sinister little zombie girl.

Rick makes the mistake of looking for the advertised shelter in the city. These shelters never live up to their promise. It all seems as deserted as the countryside until he turns a corner to find five hundred 'walkers' in one street. Then he's in trouble. Although, in a shocking twist, his wife and son aren't dead (yet). He should be reunited with them pretty soon. And then they will all die. That's not a spoiler, just a prediction. I imagine his son might get the zombie fever, and they'll have to frantically search for a cure. That sort of thing. It may be standard stuff, but it's confidently and powerfully done. A very promising start.

1 comment:

  1. Pants, I wanted to catch this and missed it. Now I've read this, double-pants.