War of the Dead Review
The FilmMarko Makilaakso seems a very enterprising chap. His first feature film, War Of the Dead, was financed from the US, Lithuania and Italy, shot in Lithuania and he writes, produces and directs - all at the tender age of 34. Not special enough for you? Heck, he even takes a horror genre staple and makes an action film with pretensions to a global message rather than throwing on the offal and CGI core.
War of the Dead takes Hitler's well publicised dabbling with the Occult a bit further, and places an experimentation centre in the middle of World War 2 in the midst of Russian and Finnish skirmishing for land. Finnish troops, accompanied by American journalists, find themselves meeting head-on the undead results of these experiments and fighting for survival alongside their erstwhile enemies, the Russians.What the movie serves up is plenty of action, some decent thrills and a relentless pace. It features minor British actors that suggest the director is a fan of The Bill, with a cast mainly drawn from Finland and Eastern Europe and pretty impeccable, if limited, production. It's a new spin on an overused subgenre but it is remarkably confident and will surprise anyone expecting amateurish nonsense.
In that sense it reminds me of the marvellous Outpost of a few years ago, and where that film did very well with exploiting both the drama and the horror of a siege by Nazi Zombies, War Of the Dead does something similar by delivering endless chases, fisticuffs and a message of peace with similar material. There’s tons of pace so that you can't see the plot holes or linger on the cinematic pilfering from any number of war and action films. Tons of pace so the clichéd dialogue misses your attention, and tons of pace so a few bad bits of CGI don't detract from the film's general proficiency.
And there's nothing wrong with that, if what you want is a diversion on a night in and don't want to do too much in the way of thinking or stomaching gore. Makilaakso will get more chances to helm bigger pictures and more serious projects on the back of a tight well delivered movie like this one, and he'll deserve it too.
Tech SpecsWar of the Dead comes in a gatefold cover promising Nazi's, zombies and explosions and has a bright red box for the region 2 locked disc to sit in as well. It's presented with a degree of care for the genre fan that reflects well on Momentum and makes the best of few extras.
There is a 15 minute making of where the director and key cast discuss the movie and the fun they had completing it and a short trailer for the film itself. The main feature is presented in original aspect ratio and much of the action takes place in the near dark which means contrast needs to be well judged and, thankfully it is. Colours are restrained and appropriate, edges are natural and bar some small aliasing this is a decent presentation.There is a single 5.1 audio track which creates plenty of fury for the action to be contained within and suggest creaks and cracks in the effects which are mixed approximately across the soundstage. It's an effective mix which lacks some subtlety and makes obvious how the score is used to support the rapid pacing. Optional subs are available too.
SummaryA neat package delivering an entertaining action variation on the Nazi Zombie theme.
6 out of 10
6 out of 10
6 out of 10
3 out of 10