I have to admit, I went into About a Zombie fully expecting to hate it. It's a mockumentary about an Irish family that decides to care for their adult son after he becomes a zombie, instead of killing him as most people do. While I am a big fan of zombie films generally, the genre has been overplayed of late, and this premise sounded exceptionally annoying. But it actually turns out to be a pretty decent film.
The boy's father, Danny (Rory Mullen) appears first on screen, being asked, apparently by a reporter, to talk about the "events of last year", something that Danny is reluctant to do. He eventually acquiesces, and starts to tell about how a documentary film crew, led by an American director (Todd Fletcher) comes to tell the story of Billy (Patrick Murphy), the first zombie in Ireland.
Billy's mother Lizzie (Geraldine McAlinden) and pregnant girlfriend Aoife (Diane Jennings) are very devoted to him, but his sister Louise (Sonya O'Donaghue) and brother Darren (Paul O'Bryan) are less than thrilled. Billy is after all an aggressive cannibal who has to be kept in a straitjacket and muzzle at all times, and must be washed up with a hose in the back yard while being restrained. He's dangerous, and the neighbors don't like it that he's around.
A lot of the drama comes from the familial and community tension and resentment about Billy, all of which is exacerbated by the film crew, and in particular the ruthless and arrogant director, who would prefer to stir up trouble to get good footage. This isn't a zombie apocalypse movie. It's set in Dublin and though the government seems rather feckless, local vigilantes manage to keep the zombies in check. The tension rather comes from the inevitable violence of Billy and the possible violent reaction of the community to him.
About a Zombie, also called Portrait of a Zombie, isn't a perfect film. One of the biggest leaps the audience has to take is accepting the fact that his family would keep Billy around despite the fact that he's so terribly dangerous. Even less likely is that Aoife would persist in her desire to marry him, even going so far as to have her local priest petition the bishop to allow it. But once you let go of these objections, the film more or less sweeps you up in the action. There are definite moments of dread and disquiet, though they are spotty and the uneasiness isn't consistently maintained. The blood and gore are pretty good, and mostly practical, though there are a few better than average CG shots thrown in. The performances are good as well, with Rory Mullen inhabiting his role as the world weary and longsuffering father with grace and charm.
The film isn't fantastic, but it's not bad. It's definitely worth a look, especially for zombie aficionados. Recommended.
The image is 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks decent. It's a mockumentary, and recreates the feel of a doc quite well. The colors are muted and smooth. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
Audio is available in Dolby digital 5.1 and 2 channel, and sounds good. No hiss or other problem can be heard. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are included. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
No extras were included. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality or quantity of extras on the final product.
About a Zombie is a better than average zombie movie, and attempts to move the genre in new directions. It has some tension and a disquieting atmosphere, but focuses mostly on the dramatic implications of its premise, with some gore and humor tossed in. It's worth a look.