Fido (2006) dir. Andrew Currie
Starring: Billy Connolly, Carrie-Ann Moss, Dylan Baker, Henry Czerny, K'Sun Ray
It sounds absurd but 'Slingblade', meets 'E.T.', meets 'Lassie' meets 'Night of the Living Dead' could have been the pitch for Andrew Currie’s wholly original 'Fido'. The deliciously delightful comedy about a tamed zombie who is bought by a humble suburban family to do household chores but ends up developing a brotherly relationship with their young son, smoothly combines Douglas Sirk-style 50’s suburban melodrama with a post-modern zombie subversion of “Shawn of the Dead”.
A masculine and guttural voice of a 1950’s radio announcer in the opening voiceover explains the backstory in the style of a classic newsreel. Instead of a World War, Earth, in this fictional world fought a “zombie war” against a zombie infestation. A company called Zomcon was able to tame the zombies with a collar around their necks. With this device zombies became robotlike servants available to ordinary families to do their daily chores.
One day Helen Robinson (Carrie Anne Moss) surprises her husband, Bill (Dylan Baker) with a new zombie (Billy Connolly) for the home. Their young boy Timmy (K'Sun Ray) makes friends with the zombie and names him Fido. Fido performs his tasks well, but Bill is still suspect of his presence. Painful memories of the Zombie War are brought back which causes a disruption in the family. Fido is watched carefully by the neighbourhood skeptic Mr. Theopolis (Tim Blake Nelson) and one of the Zomcom executives (Henry Czerny) for fear that Timmy and Fido’s relationship might result in another potential zombie-outbreak.
Everything in the film, no matter how ridiculous is played deadpan straight. Director Currie assembles a perfect ensemble cast, Billy Connolly, as the sad indentured slave-zombie, Carrie Anne Moss as the perfect 50’s homemaker, Dylan Baker as the conservative suburban father, young K'Sun Ray is gawky enough to play the curious Timmy and Henry Czerny is perhaps the stand out playing his customary bad guy role with despicable menace.
Parodying the dull 1950’s suburban lifestyle is not new, but when combined with the absurd revisionist history Currie and co-writers Dennis Heaton and Robert Chomiak create with the zombies, it’s downright hilarious.
The film, shot by DOP Jan Kiesser, looks fantastic as well, shot with a beautiful widescreen frame, bright saturated colours and great use of the B.C. landscape. Composer Don MacDonald produces a top notch Elmer Bernstein-esque score and complements the heightened recreation of the period perfectly.
“Fido” manages to find surprisingly clever metaphors between zombies and the paranoia of the 1950’s - the fear of losing jobs to mechanical automation, the communist scare, and the need to keep up with the Joneses. But the heart of the film is the relationship between boy and zombie, which would have made an awesome pitch.
"Fido" screens tonight as part of the monthly 'Canadian Cinema in Revue' series at Toronto's Revue Cinema