The Dead 2: India (2013)
(TBC) Running time: 90 minutes
Directors: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford
Writers: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford
Cast: Joseph Millson, Meenu Mishra, Anand Gopal
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
The Ford Brothers stormed FrightFest in 2010 with their now legendary zombie epic, The Dead, so expectations were very high for their sequel, which opened the festival. The first film encompassed the beautiful landscape of Africa and used mostly daylight shots to give the zombie genre a welcome injection of ideas and freshness. The Dead 2 moves the events to the equally impressive India, and once again uses the landscape to create a gorgeous but incredibly menacing horror film that is both thrilling and frightening, with an emotional story at its core.
Nicholas (Millson) is a British turbine engineer working in India, and while building and fixing wind turbines he has met Ishani (Mishra). He has just found out that his girlfriend is pregnant, and much to the anger of her Father, Nicholas tells her he will be home soon. However, no sooner has Nicholas found out the news does a zombie outbreak swarm the city where Ishani lives, putting Nicholas in a panic and rushing home to her as fast as he can. He has no idea of what exactly is going on, but along the way he encounters the living dead, and gets a clear indication of the scale of the problem, and of how to deal with the zombies. On his travels he meets Javed (Gopal), a young boy in need of help, and who can get Nicholas to his destination as he knows the fastest route.
After a vicious slow-mo opening with some very intense music, it was clear that The Ford Brothers intended to deliver a bigger and better film than its predecessor, and they have achieved that in breathtaking style. One of the big catches to this film was the ferocious score delivered by Imran Ahmad: it thunders along and delivers creepy tension perfectly, or adds that emotional punch at just the right moment. The music here is terrific, but thankfully everything else is superb too. The acting from the lead cast (especially Millson and Gopal) is wonderful, and they all deliver their characters with passion, believability and brilliance. The zombies are terrifying, and deliver some exceptional jump scares, but I found them more effective when they were simply sneaking around. One of the films stand out creepy moments see’s a zombie staring through a hole in a wall while Nicholas and Javed sleep inside: the scene is creepy to the extreme and handled perfectly by the directors.
The scale of the film is massive compared to the first, and the first zombie attack on the city conjures up thoughts of Marc Forster’s World War Z. The Ford Brothers use their budget wisely and are masters at making low budget look good. The production here is top notch, and The Dead 2: India delivers thrills, chills, scares and emotion with ease, and easily beats the first film in terms of quality and brilliance. Nicholas is such a strong, likable character that I was so easily drawn in to all the madness, and was desperate to see Nicholas survive his quest. The connection with the film and its characters is crafted so well by the directors that you have no choice but to get sucked in to the story.
Make no mistake though, The Dead 2 is incredibly violent in places, with one of the most impressive scenes showing Nicholas bashing zombies skulls in with a mallet. Later on he takes on a horde of the undead with all sorts of guns, and while it could have gone way over the top and become silly, The Ford Brothers keep a tight hold on the proceedings and keep things as grounded as possible. The scares work brilliantly, and the age old formula of sudden jump with a loud burst of music somehow feels fresh and it really works. The use of shaky cam (which seems to irritate people more and more these days) really enhances the chaos here, while at other times the close ups are swapped for incredible landscape shots with a still camera. The directors make full use of their setting, and where it is needed, pull the camera right back to take in as much of the beauty of the landscape as possible.
When they deliver tension, it is delivered incredibly well. A scene involving Nicholas attempting an escape by parachute is nail-biting stuff, while other moments hiding from the undead deliver edge of your seat thrills. There is even room for some religious waffling and talk of how this was God’s will because mankind have become so nasty, and this is a cleansing performed by God so that we can all start over. This film goes deep when it needs to, and for such a basic search and rescue story, there is so much more to enjoy. There is even room for the odd bit of heartwarming comedy between Nicholas and Javed.
However, there are a few minor quibbles, and I mean minor. While the main cast are exceptional, there are some of the smaller cast members who do struggle somewhat. Ishani’s parents in particular struggle to deliver their lines as good as the lead characters. I also felt that Nicholas had become almost superhuman as the film went on, surviving attacks a little too easy for me to really buy into. However, these are complaints that never really spoilt my enjoyment of this magnificent and often jawdropping horror.
The Dead 2: India is bigger, better and more exciting than the first film, with strong central characters and a well worn story delivered with creativeness and passion. The emotional core of the film is brilliantly set up, and the scenes of savagery mixed with the pulse pounding score make The Dead 2 one of the finest zombie films of the year. Powerful stuff!