2007Director: Andrew Currie
Cast: Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss, K’Sun Ray
good zombie movie should leave us asking questions. They ask us to consider how our morality withstands the primal urge for survival incited by a struggle against the undead. The overused moment present in almost every zombie movie I've ever seen—the scene where a loved one must be killed off because of their inevitable and imminent transformation into the living dead—is still powerful because it always raises that basic question. Fido examines an entire society in the post-traumatic aftermath of the “zombie wars.” The whole culture has been pulled, kicking and screaming, through those terrifying moments where one loses one’s humanity to survive. Everybody, it seems, has killed a family member.
The suburban town portrayed in Fido has survived, it seems, through “containment.” To keep the town alive, literally and figuratively, its citizens have all indulged in a kind of mass-hypnosis, surrendering themselves to corporate power, consumerism, and petty gossip. The culture is so disturbed and haunted by its own past—the zombie wars—that its efforts to self-medicate are heightened to the point of comic absurdity. Everything in suburbia is too sunny, too cheery, too perfect. This idea is certainly not novel, but its context delivers a horrifying and hilarious result.
A large corporation, Zomcom, has become a centerpiece of American culture for handling all the issues pertaining to zombies. At the end of the zombie wars, the president of Zomcom invented collars that domesticated the undead. “Thanks to Zomcom, we can all become productive members of society, even after we die!” one newsreel happily announces to a room of eager students. A television ad for a Zomcom heart-stop alarm (a device that alerts the proper authorities immediately when an old person dies, thereby reducing the risk of them turning into a zombie and attacking someone) says in a dramatic voice, “The elderly: they seem nice, but can you really trust them?” alongside an image of a little girl being chased by her newly undead grandfather.
The story centers around the Robinsons, a family, who, despite all their best efforts, can't fit into the suburban life their neighbors immediately settled into after the zombie wars. Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) wants a zombie to prove to the rest of the neighborhood that she can afford one. Moss is perfect for this role; she's attractive and happy in a serene, almost mournful way. Her every bodily motion, her nervous grins, the readjustments she makes to her sun dresses, the fumbling motion she tries to hide as she pulls a gun out of her purse to shoot a zombie: all hint at her discomfort with this place. Bill, the dismissive father figure (Dylan Baker), has never quite recovered from having to kill his father when he became a zombie. Timmy (K'Sun Ray) is constantly bullied in school. Then, one day, Fido comes along. Fido, in Latin, means “to trust,” and this fits well into their new zombie's description. He's a friend for Timmy to play ball with, and a creature possessing simple fidelity and masculinity, two traits completely absent from Bill, for Helen to admire. “I wish I had known you before...when you were alive,” she says to him as he stands obediently chained to a tree in the back yard.
Fido gracefully explores the mindset of these different characters, exaggerating their already ridiculous behavior by pitting them against the undead. Mr. Theopolis, the Robinson's next-door neighbor, has a questionable romantic entanglement with his zombie Tammy, who was most likely an attractive young girl when she was still alive. Jonathon Bottoms, a grizzled and proud veteran of the zombie wars, carries himself with a passionless paternal control of his surroundings. He says to Bill Robinson after learning of his father's death, “don't let 'em [family members] get too close. Makes it harder to pull the trigger.” It's funny in an unsettling way to see Bottoms mingle awkwardly with his new neighbors, but it's also frightening to see how a generally reasonable man adopts such a philosophy towards life, and become a successful in the process.
In the end, the characters can't all stay frozen in time, suppressing their desires and wishes for the sake of communal stability, and things in Suburbia start to fall apart. New zombies slowly start to appear, not in an outbreak, but in a slow trickle, like the gossip that meanders through the town. Secrets, just like the undead, keep resurfacing. Containment, the mission of Zomcom, speaks to a larger issue of social repression that makes the characters so desperate. The end of the movie juxtaposes the dramatic outburst of each character’s feelings towards each other with an uprise in the Zomcom factory. The characters all seem redeemed, in a brilliant move by the director, because of the overwhelming presence of the zombies, rather than alongside it.
Fido is currently in limited release.
By: Yannick LeJacq
Published on: 2007-07-06