I have seen my share of zombie films both good and bad; and the Canadian-made "Fido" isn't either. It's a satirical horror-comedy with an intriguing premise, but unfortunately, I suppose it would be appropriate to just say up front that it does close to nothing with its simple but entertaining ideas. It presents us with futuristic ideas, although it sets the story in the 1950's; the idea is that radiation waves from space have hit earth and caused the dead to become the undead, or zombies, if you prefer. For a while, the living went to war with the dead - a battle which the former ultimately won - and after it was all over, a brilliant scientist had developed technology that would allow the zombies to become tame. From then on, zombies were to be treated as household pets or better yet even maids; in the film, we see these walking, rotting corpses mowing lawns and getting their masters lemonade. They can be controlled by a collar that they must wear at all times. It has been created by a company called Zomcom; and they provide consumers with a button and a collar, respectively, to be able to live out their lives without the fear of becoming a zombie's next meal.
The film takes place mostly in suburbia, where the hero (a young boy named Timmy, played effectively by child actor K'Sun Ray) is living a quiet, peaceful, but uneventful life with parents Bill (Dylan Baker, still as funny and creepy in equal doses as ever) and Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss). Then, his parents decide to purchase their very own zombie, in spite of Bill's profound phobia of the creatures. Timmy warms right up to the hulking beast, and soon it becomes more of a boy and his dog story than one about the zombie apocalypse (or zombies at all). I'll just assume that was what writer-director Andrew Currie was aiming for and move on.
Timmy calls his new friend Fido (played by Irish comic Billy Connelly, who breathes new life to the role of a character who is essentially lifeless). They have many misadventures over the course of the 90-minute film, including run-ins with classmates of Timmy's who aspire to work for Zomcom when they get older, and a tragic incident in which Fido chooses a not-so-kindly old lady that lives across the street from Timmy and his family as his meal of choice. For the most part, Timmy is able to keep such things a secret; but his new neighbor - the head of security for Zomcom - is on to his antics, and eventually it gets out of hand.
I respect the artistic vision that first-timer Currie had in mind. "Fido" is a rare horror-comedy with the purist of intentions - the gore is toned down significantly in comparison to most horror films these days, supposedly to provide a more family-friendly viewing experience, I guess - but I was let down when it failed to live up to the premise that it had been building up for so long. I liked the musical and visual representation of a 1950's-era America, but the film still failed to draw me in. The satire is too obvious, and while it's occasionally kind of funny, there aren't enough well-written characters or comical situations for the movie to hold its own. There are side characters that I found amusing, such as one played by Tim Blake Nelson, but overall; it's never as clever as it wants to be.
There are good performances. There is competent direction. And there are good, solid ambitions all-around. But I found the film to be a total drag; it never takes off as far as the premise goes, and it fails to combine gory scares with dark humor effectively. There were...a few big laughs, but that's pretty much it. Otherwise, you've just got a movie that feels as lifeless and dry as the decomposing corpses that occupy it. Maybe if the film hadn't exploded into a cesspool of heavy-handed sap and sentimentality towards the end, I might have gone easier on it, but even then, I can't say I was ever particularly entertained past the 20 minute mark. This isn't a good zombie movie, but it certainly isn't a bad one either. It fails to deliver the gore but I respect and admire what it's trying to do; just not what it actually does, which isn't much, to be honest. There isn't a doubt on my mind that others will find it to be more engaging, funny, and satisfactory; but I've been watching horror movies for far too long to make the mistake of applauding what is essentially a half-cooked effort. But then again, even those can be fun sometimes.
Canada's 'Fido' has an impressive look and feel of the fifties, but the results are overlong and too deadpan. What would have been a great "Saturday Night Live" serial of skits is often too obvious and tedius in movie form.
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