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Horror films are very adept at social satire. Classics of the genre such as any George A. Romero Zombie films (especially Living Dead 2, Dawn Of The Dead, The (1978)), John Carpenter's They Live (1988) and Escape From New York (1981), David Cronenberg's Scanners (1980) and Videodrome (1983), Donnie Darko (2001), or the Scream trilogy to name but just a few, have given the horror genre an extra dimension by taking an aspect of society that was relevent at the time and bending it into a satire. With Fido (2006), we get something a little different: a social satire with a pinch of horror. This is a low-budget film that was done very well, with great cinematography and fantastic art direction. In turns addressing issues of race, slavery, class separation, government abuse, the war on terror, and so on, the movie is a real gem of originality.
In traditional conservative 50's America, a menace is brewing. No, it's not the Chinese. No, it's not Communism either. It's Zombies. When an epidemic hits the US and the dead rise from their graves, it's a general panic. Except that soon, a brilliant scientist develops the foundation for a whole science of Zombies. He's the man who figures out how to really kill a zombie, and most importantly, how to give the country a sense of hope again by domesticating them and integrating them back into society as productive elements. Quickly, a full government infrastructure is put in place to process the dead for those who really want to stay dead, and domesticate the rest for helping overworked housewives in all middle class homes across the country.
The film focuses on one family in a dreamy white-picket fence American town. Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) is a beautiful woman in a loveless marriage. Her husband Bill (Dylan Baker) is completely emotionally absent, preferring instead to spend his days wallowing in his phobia of Zombies. Her son Timmy is the only light of her life, a smart kid who is constantly bullied by two horrible kids and an old neighbor. When Helen remarks that they are the only family in the neighborhood without a Zombie, she decides to get one, much to the despair of her husband, and the joy of her son. Fido (Billy Connolly) develops as the emotional focus for both of them. Timmy sees in him much more than his father ever was, and Helen starts to have strange feelings for the Zombie. This new idyllic situation suddenly turns to the worse when Fido eats the neighbor "by accident". Timmy will struggle to keep Fido in the family, and close to him, but a few murders and zombies later, the community is in havoc. This is when top government agent Mr. Bottoms (Henry Czerny), a war hero and head of security for the Zombie processing company, so suspicious about everything and everybody, takes matters in his hands to uncover answers.
This is a film that will surprise most people who watch it. It's a little gem full of funny tender moments, sharp social satire material, a really great cast and fantastic art direction. If you like Carrie-Anne Moss, this is a must see. I haven't see her so good and beautiful in quite a while. The film is so unexpected, so creative. The gore is kept to a minimum but probably still enough to make uncomfortable those who don't like horror films. Of course, there is also not enough gore to satisfy any zombie hard core fan. As i wrote above, this is above all a social satire, a dark comedy, which happens to involve Zombies. But it's so innovative in its structure that any fan of the genre should give it a try, and anyone who likes sharp satires and can stomach a little bit of blood and dismemberment, should give it a try too.
- Laurent Hasson