Sundance ’07: Another Look at Lionsgate’s ‘Fido’

Inside we’ve added Ryan Daley’s review of Lionsgate’s Fido, which played last week at the Sundance Film Festival. You can read my review by clicking here. The film hits theaters June 15, 2007. Timmy Robinson’s best friend in the whole wide world is a six-foot tall rotting zombie named Fido. But when Fido eats the next-door neighbor, Mom and Dad hit the roof, and Timmy has to go to the ends of the earth to keep Fido a part of the family. A boy-and-his-dog movie for grown ups, Fido will rip your heart out. Click here for our full Sundance Festival coverage!Fido
7 out of 10
Ryan Daley

Max Brooks’ two recent, brilliantly conveyed novels (The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War) have intellectualized the debate surrounding zombie mythology to a staggering degree. My friend Eddie is a man bearing a strong allegiance to the stoic credibility of Brooks, a zombie purist, if you will, and he balked when he saw the zombies toting machine guns in Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare City. It seemed as obnoxiously antithetical as the image of a cow sitting in a chaise lounge, sipping a martini. Zombies don’t carry guns. That’s just silly.

Fido is also silly, but in an endearing way. Some true believers may approach director Andrew Currie’s take on zombie mythology as irreverent and blasphemous, and it’s true, Fido does turn the zombie genre on its partially-decayed ear.

The Robinson family lives in a modest home in the halcyon suburbs of 1950s America. The zombie apocalypse has come and gone, thanks to the ZomCom corporation and their mass-produced zombie domestication collar, which renders zombies as harmless and docile as baby kittens rescued from an opium den. Helen Robinson (Carrie-Anne Moss), stuck in a complacent marriage with her husband Bill (Dylan Baker), decides that the time has come for their family to obtain a Zomcom-domesticated family zombie, for help with chores and such around the house. Every family on the block already has a zombie, and some people even have as many as half a dozen.

Next door neighbor Mr. Theopolis (Tim Blake Nelson) has a tall, leggy, teenage zombie who wears halter tops and short shorts to the neighborhood’s abject disapproval. Husband Bill is vehemently against having a zombie in the house, due to the fact that he was compelled to behead his own father’s undead corpse during the zombie war and he’s been having a hard time getting over that whole patricidal mess. In fact, Bill is pretty emotionally distant as far as fathers go, almost a zombie himself, smiling vacantly and ignoring his young son, Timmy, at every opportunity.

Soon after its arrival, Timmy names the zombie Fido (portrayed by a subtle and scene-stealing Billy Connolly). Bill is understandably hesitant at the thought of a zombie in the house, although he is comforted somewhat by the shock feature on the radio-controlled device that comes with the ZomCom brand collar. Suffering from sexual neglect, Helen seems pleased to have another man in the house, even if that man happens to be undead and rotting, and soon she is shooting Fido flirty sidelong glances and engaging him in water fights on the front lawn. Timmy and Fido form an instant bond as he fills the space left by Bill’s constant absence and occasionally protects Timmy from a duo of marauding neighborhood bullies. Soon Timmy is gleefully wandering the local woods and foothills with his newfound friend, and when Fido’s collar goes on the fritz, resulting in the untimely death of the neighborhood geriatric, this idyllic community starts to question the collared, complacent undead who roam so freely through their midst.

Currie’s film is a giddy satire, not as uproariously funny or original as Shaun of the Dead, but it stands confidently as a very witty piece of filmmaking. Romero flirted with the notion of zombie control in Day of the Dead, so Currie isn’t exactly treading on unexplored territory. But the heady amalgam of Leave it to Beaver-style social sanitization and the walking undead makes for a unexpectedly pleasing combination. Zombie purists may roll their eyes in dismay, but the casual horror fan will almost certainly be entertained by this droll concoction.