During the 1950’s, an infestation from outer space caused the dead to rise as zombies. Thanks to Zomcon, a corporation that developed processes to handle the zombie infestation, towns across America find themselves safe. Fences have been built to keep the zombies out, and a control collar was developed to control the zombie bloodlust, making them basically domesticated slaves. When Helen decided to acquire a zombie to help her family fit in, both her husband and son feel uncomfortable. Eventually, the zombie wins over her son, Timmy, and earns the nickname Fido. However, when his control collar malfunctions and he eats an elderly neighbor all hell breaks loose.
It has gotten to the point where, when a new zombie movie is made, it needs to bring something original to the table. There have been a plethora of zombie movies made over time that never really matched up to George Romero’s original vision. It seems like another zombie movie is mentioned every week, and none of them really brings anything new to the genre. Shaun of the Dead changed everything when it was released and proved that there could still be a market for the horror of the undead if the story was done right. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg gave us a story that remained true to the original horror of Romero but played out with a great humor that made the movie something special.
Fido is another movie to add to the list of zombie films that actually brings something new to the table. The movie began with a black and white instructional lesson covering the history of zombies and the creation of Zomcon, which brought the idea of “Control through Containment.” We then cut to the 1950’s town of Willard. Using Technicolor, the movie mimics the colors of Pleasantville with the feel of Leave it to Beaver. We meet young Timmy, who has no friends at school and is picked on by bullies. His home life is not much better, as his mother, Helen, is only concerned about their appearance and his father, Bill, is oblivious to everything going on around him.
The main theme of the movie was control through containment, and the movie explored that motif very well. It was not just the zombies that were controlled though. The people of the town lived in their peaceful, oblivious moments, with their zombie slaves all around them. Fenced into the town, they all lived day to day pretending there was nothing wrong, contained in the town and controlled through a built in fear. Just like typical zombie movies, the zombies are the monster you expect to fear, but the true enemy is a human force. In this movie, that would be Zomcon, which was designed to protect the people but ended up simply controlling them.
The music used throughout the movie adds to the appearance and feel of the movie, giving it that light hearted ‘50s feel as well. Don McDonald put together a score that really lightens the tone of the movie and gives it that picturesque feel of a perfect 1950s town. When added to scenes with zombies lumbering around, the contrast is nothing less than brilliant.
Throughout the movie, what Fido seems to do better than most zombie movies is developing everyone’s character arcs. The relationship between Timmy and Fido grows throughout the movie but every character seems to have a solid character arc that develops through to the end. Helen begins the movie as someone only concerned with appearances but slowly grows to become more motherly and more concerned about both her son and Fido. Bill begins the movie as really self contained and very unemotional. Due to the fact that he had to kill his zombie father at a young age, he refuses to allow himself to show emotion. By the end, he is able to completely atone for these deficiencies and become the father he always should have been. Even a minor character, such as neighbor Mr. Theopolis (Tim Blake Nelson), has a strong character arc that is allowed to develop throughout the movie’s running time.
Carrie-Ann Moss was very surprising in her role, and in my opinion, it might be her best film performance that I have seen. K’Sun Ray was also very good in his role as young Timmy. Billy Connolly was amazing as Fido, giving just the right touches and nuances in his performance as the main zombie of the film. Without ever delivering a line, he is able to convey all the emotions needed to make you care about him. In his minor role, Tim Blake Nelson was gold in every scene he was in, chewing up the scenery with every line he had to deliver.
The humor of the movie is right up there with Shaun of the Dead. There are homages to so many movies, from Blue Velvet to Day of the Dead, that you will be able to watch it over and over again and still catch new ones. Probably the funniest homage to me, was when Fido went to find Helen to take her to save little Timmy. It was the true boy and his dog storyline, and all I could do was yell, “Come on Lassie, let’s go save little Timmy!” It was brilliant in its execution. Other small touches, such as Bill never noticing that Helen was pregnant despite it being completely obvious, were great as well.
Fido is this year’s Shaun of the Dead and matches up well with this year’s other great comedies (Hot Fuzz, Superbad). In lesser hands, it might have been a mess, but Andrew Currie created a movie with great acting, a crackling script, wonderful music composition and great direction. Fido succeeds on every level.
The cover of the DVD is Fido’s giant face with blurbs surrounding it talking about how funny the movie is. I really don’t care much for the cover art at all. It’s presented in 16X9 widescreen with 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio. The look of the movie is pristine, with all the colors just popping off the screen. It looks great and sounds even better, which is important with the music as important to the film as it is. The look and sound of this DVD is almost perfect.
There is an audio commentary track with Director Andrew Currie, Producer Mary-Anne Waterhouse, and Actress Carrie-Ann Moss. The commentary is great, as all three play off each other well. Lots of stuff is learned in the commentary, including the fact that the pregnancy subplot was only added because Carrie-Ann Moss was really pregnant during filming and they added the pregnancy scenes to keep the continuity through the movie as she grew larger. Great commentary, as all three are highly entertaining and enthusiastic about the movie.
There is a second commentary track with Don McDonald, the composer for Fido that includes commentary over selected scenes. McDonald talks about the reasons for the types of music used in various scenes. He also discusses themes and specific character motifs and comes across as very intelligent yet keeps the track interesting and explains everything in a language that anyone can understand. He talks through about thirty minutes of the film.
There is a Making of Fido featurette that is entirely too short and is just clips of the cast and crew talking about what the movie is about. There is a blooper reel which is just the cast forgetting their lines and breaking out in laughter. There are also six deleted scenes with optional director commentary. Most of the deleted scenes were cut due to pacing issues, although there was one that was hilarious where a slow moving zombie was chasing an old lady on a walker. The final deleted “scene” was interesting because it was an entire plot sequence where Timmy tries to take Fido to the Wild Zone for his own safety. There was also a nice homage in this section of the movie, as Fido mimics Bub from Day of the Dead. This was about a fifteen minute sequence that was removed because the director felt it bogged down the entire second act of the movie. I am very glad it was included here because it was some great stuff.
Fido Family Portraits includes three art galleries. The first is a Conceptual Art Gallery, which shows the drawn art work and compares it to actual shots from the movie. It clocks in at 3:46. The second feature here is Billy Connolly’s Transformation. These are still photos that were taken throughout the makeup process as Billy Connolly goes from his normal appearance to that of Fido. It clocks in at 3:16. The final feature in this section is called Fido’s Storybook. This is an animated story using still drawn photos that retells the story of Fido with a different conclusion to the story.
Zomcon DVD-ROM is a zombie creator where you take a photo of someone and give them zombie effects to save. It’s simple fluff and does not really work very well. Finally, there is the Theatrical Trailer and a trailer collection of other movies.