Would the zombie tearing Davina,s throat out please come to the diary room.
, 01 Nov 2008
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Show review anywayHide
Charlie Brookers 'Screenburn ' column in the Guardian is one of the highlights of any week it is actually in the paper . He has forayed into TV before with the hit & miss media satire Nathan Barley( which he co-wrote with Chris Morris) but for zombie apocalypse horror drama Dead Set Brooker takes a solo writing credit . Brooker had alluded to his fascination with the zombie genre( one i share) with his last book of collected writings Dawn Of The Dumb , which it could argued is the titular precursor for this series. Shown on E4 week commencing 27th October Dead Set sees an outbreak of zombiefication strike with the drama centred around the Big Brother house on eviction night.( The eviction for Dead Set was actually filmed on a real eviction night) Studio gofer Kelly ( Jamie Winston ) is being given the run around by obnoxious foul mouthed producer Patrick(Andy Nyamn). She is also on the cusp of cheating on her boyfriend Riq ( Riz Ahmed) - first seen hanging around a train station- with work-mate Danny( Eyles Gabel) but just as she is about to the zombies attack. The habitants of the Big Brother house- the usual array of social nematodes including a crass Northerner(gee thanks Charlie) a flamboyant cross dresser, a neurotic cerebral older chap and the obligatory thick as a whale omelette blonde- are oblivious to the zombies rampaging around at first . Kelly , proving herself adept in a crisis soon acquaints them with the facts and a siege ensues with the contestants barricaded in the house and the producer (callously locking doors behind him as he flees and condemning others to death) in an office with the latest evictee where he gorges himself on canapés and champagne cleverly mirroring the voracious zombies prowling around outside. Meanwhile Riq wants to find out if Kelly is still alive and teams up with no- nonsense gun toting Alex ( Liz May Brice) Many will make a correlation between the zombies and the inhabitants of the house and by proxy the people who watch them and view Dead Set as making some sort if sociological point. Brooker has denied this ,though it seems to me there may have been something whirring away subconsciously . I was expecting more verbal dexterity from the script( though it is very good at times one BB character referring to 'Palastinia' and another wandering into in a office declaring 'It smells of fingering in here') in but Brooker has played in pretty straight , though the high levels of profanity would probably upset some more than the extreme gore - which for a drama commissioned for TV is extreme, though it,s obviously in keeping with the genre. The cast acquit themselves very well with Winston and May Brice both excellent and special mention must go to Davina McCall who throws herself into her role as a zombie with terrific gusto. I cannot deny a certain frisson of pleasure as the usually annoying BB host had her throat ripped out but fair play to her for taking part. Director gives the drama a slightly eerie silvery sheen and doesnt stint on the gore factor- indeed this must easily be the most gory programme ever made for British TV and it is , as you would expect nowadays, very realistic. Brooker has opted to eschew the usual shambling drooling rotting cadavers of classic zombie fiction and go for the faster screaming maniacal creatures from 28 Days Later. This may upset the purists but there is no doubt these zombies are far more terrifying and dangerous. No explanation for the zombie outbreak is given in the narrative but the characters speculate -terrorist attack, virus , something to with GM crops ( read Sarah Pinboroughs ridiculous novel 'Breeding Ground' for a GM angle on apocalyptic fiction) and given the dramas limited scope this is to be expected. This brings me to the only real problem with Dead Set .Setting it in the BB house means the narrative is pretty static and even though we get to see the effects of the zombie outbreak on the outside world through the eyes of Riq it,s more a tantalising glimpse than anything. Still this is an audacious drama given TV ,s normally conservative nature. If you didnt catch it on TV( i suspect it will never make it on to Channel 4 or if it does in a graveyard slot -no pun intended) this DVD is a must and the promise of some juicy extras( cast interviews and behind the scenes stuff) makes it even more essential. Dead Set , despite Brookers assertion otherwise seems to me to be a coruscating comment on Britain and its 24 hour surveillance and fascination with what other people are doing . The final shots of numerous cameras focusing on the vacuous mass of zombie kind , their empty expressions staring back into the lens is Bookers view of us reflected back at ourselves. Now that really is scary.
- Was this review helpful to you?
(40) Yes |