"Fido" Review From SIFF!
As I have said before, the Seattle International Film Festival is a beast. A behemoth of dare I say, too many good movies. Every year I want to get to several of the films offered so it's hard to believe that I had only ever been three times. Fortunately for me though, they were all three incredible movie-going experiences. A 70MM print of 1967's "Playtime" at the Cinerama in 2004, and last year "Snow Cake" and "OSS 117" both at the Neptune. Last night I made my fourth ever trip to SIFF and once again I have seen a truly great movie. Justin, Drew, and I joined a packed house at the Neptune to see Andrew Currie's Canadian zombie comedy, "Fido."
While the idea of zombie comedy is not new ("Dead Alive" and "Shaun of the Dead" being the "Citizen Kane" and "Casablanca" of the genre), "Fido's" style and concept set it apart from the pack of lame zomedy attempts of the past few years. Finally a film worthy of mentioning in the same breath as "DA" and "Shaun."
"Fido" opens showing us a 1950s style educational film about the zombie war and humanity's triumph over the zombie outbreak. We see that standard George Romero rules apply. The dead rise and become zombies and feed on the living to create more. The only way to finish off a zombie is to remove the head or destroy the brain. After the war was won and the outbreak had gotten under control, Zomcon created an electric collar to make zombies docile so that they could "be productive members of society, even after they're dead." As the short ends we see it really is the fifties and a classroom full of kids is hearing about the wonders of Zomcon from their top man Mr. Bottoms ("Clear and Present Danger's" Henry Czerny). "Without Zomcon we'd all be dead. And then where would we be?" he asks the class of wide-eyed kids. The only skeptic in the room is Timmy Robinson (K'Sun Ray), a kid bullied by his classmates, and kept at a distance by his dad Bill (Dylan Baker). His mother Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) feels embarrassed that they're the only family on the block without a zombie, so she brings one home, officially adopting it from Zomcon. Bill, who once had the traumatic experience of killing his zombie father, is less than thrilled about this. Timmy isn't fond of the zombie either, until he rescues him from his tormentors at the park.
Through Billy Connolly's wordless performance we come to love the zombie as much as little Timmy does. Fido, as Timmy comes to call him, is a killing machine when his collar comes off, but it's not his fault. Eating people is just his nature. When Fido eats evil old Mrs. Henderson Timmy knows in order to keep Zomcon from taking Fido away and killing him is to clean Fido up and bury what's left of Mrs. Henderson in the park.
What really sells Fido is the way in which the characters look, speak, and behave like 1950s stereotypes. It is a world where having a zombie (or possibly several zombies if you're well to do) is the norm. Only neighbor Mr. Theopolis ("O Brother Where Art Thou's" Tim Blake Nelson) seems to come from a different time. The early to mid-sixties. We don't want to know what he's up to with his zombie Tammy.
"Fido" is screamingly funny throughout and as I can most definitely attest to, it is a crowd pleaser. It's scheduled for a regular theatrical release in the next few weeks, so keep this one in mind. It's one of the best movies of 2007. Expect Bob Award nominations for this one! 10/10
Here is the "Fido" trailer: