Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dead Set

Dead Set (2008); created by Charlie Brooker

Apparently I'm late on this bandwagon considering this aired in 2008. How did this fall under my radar? Probably because I couldn't really find any news/reviews on the mainstream American horror sites. So I guess I'm not really late on any bandwagon since there isn't much of one to begin with (at least in North America). What a shame, because Dead Set was thoroughly entertaining. 

Dead Set is a 5 part mini-series that originally aired on E4 in the UK. It has now been combined into a DVD set with all 5 episodes (which plays exactly like a movie; I watched all 5 in a row). This is why it's genius: Dead Set is about a zombie outbreak while they are shooting an eviction episode of Big Brother. The majority of the story follows what happens inside the Big Brother house which basically becomes a safe place to stay from the craziness outside. It's genius because we can have over the top characters without it being annoying/stupid because guess what, Big Brother contestants are loopy to begin with. It's also genius because these people are cut off from the outside world to begin with and when they do hear of the news, it's a hilarious scene since they think it's a Big Brother task. And finally, it's genius because it's a great commentary on reality television and pop culture. Have you SEEN the screaming fans for real-life Big Brother? Screaming because of excitement versus screaming because of my-arm-is-being-ripped-off... the contestants in the House can't tell the difference. It's a commentary that doesn't hit you over the head and scream, "I am making a criticism about our modern society!" which too many other horror movies do. Come on, it's a zombie flick - don't take yourself too seriously. Dead Set gets that part just right - it makes you reflect but it doesn't detract from the overall insanity and goriness and fun of a zombie flick.

A few notes: Dead Set doesn't bring anything original to the genre. As I said, the premise of the Big Brother thing is genius, but in terms of the death scenes, scares, zombies, characters, etc... it's all been done. Don't watch this expecting anything revolutionary. In fact, it has a lot of homages to other zombie flicks but I thought that was a nice touch because Dead Set isn't trying to hide the fact that it's been done before. On that note, these zombies are the fast kind. Yeah sure, I like the slow zombies more, but this was the only way to explain why the outbreak occurred so quickly (before they could evacuate the studio). And lastly, how many times did I scream, "WHY ARE YOU SUCH AN IDIOT?" to the screen? Only once! And yes, that's an amazing feat for horror films since most characters do the most ridiculous things.

Do yourself a favour and pick up this UK mini series. It's a great premise for a zombie flick and if you know Andy Nyman (from Severance) it's worth just seeing him playing the most annoying and hilarious character ever. Just look at that 'stache! Don't think that there isn't enough gore just because it aired on TV - not a bad amount. Nothing insane, but a good dose. Excellent acting.

Overall: 8/10
Gore meter: 5/10
Scare meter: 2/10 (it's not going to make you jump much)

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