Film reviews

Shed of the Dead – SCI-FI LONDON Film Festival

Shed of the Dead is the latest film from writer/director Drew Cullingham (Black Smoke Rising, Monk3ys) and as the title might suggest, is seeking to follow in the vein of the better known Shaun of the Dead. The problem with that is Shed of the Dead simply isn’t that good.

It’s a real shame to say that, given that this film features some well known names, to say the least. Brian Blessed appears as the narrator, but is only at the start and the end of the film, a near criminal waste of such a personality. There are also genre stalwarts Kane Hodder (best known for playing Jason Voorhees in a number of the Friday the 13th movies), Bill Moseley (likely best known as Luigi Largo from Repo!), and Michael Berryman (best known for the now legendary Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes).

Shed of the Dead tells the story of Trevor (Spencer Brown), a man “between jobs” who avoids both his responsibilities and the constant insults from his wife Bobbi (Lauren Socha) by hiding in the shed on his allotment as much as he can, painting miniatures for tabletop gaming with his best friend Graham (Ewen MacIntosh). When he’s not doing that, he has long, intricate dream sequences about his heroic character Casimir the Destroyer. One day, the zombie apocalypse happens (no reason – it just does). Just kind of out of nowhere, suddenly there are zombies and Trevor must not only try to survive, but decide whether or not he can be bothered to go and save his wife.

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There are two issues with this film. The first is the writing of the characters themselves. They are thoroughly unlikeable. Trevor is a passive-aggressive shirker, Graham is a pervert with no mental filter, Bobbi spends all her time berating and abusing Trevor, and her best friend Harriet seems only really concerned with sex and offers next to nothing to the plot as a whole. There appears to be an effort here to ape Shaun of the Dead. The nerdy protagonist, the strained relationship with his other half, his somewhat dim and outspoken best friend, even to the point of shamelessly referencing the scene where Shaun goes to the local shop, unaware of the carnage and gore around him. The problem here is that it’s been done already, and it was done better.

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The second is the audio mix. Dialogue is often muffled and quiet, forcing a viewer to crank the volume up, only to then have to hastily dial it back down as the next scene is SO MUCH LOUDER. The worst offender for this (no real spoilers here) is the initial fight in the shed between Trevor and one of the zombies. It is very difficult to make out what is actually being said, but this is by no means the only culprit, with the sound balance seeming to veer wildly from scene to scene.

The acting on display is decent enough, with Bill Moseley seeming to have fun with the character of Doc, who is enjoying the zombie apocalypse just a little too much. Graham often comes across as if the movie is trying too hard to make him into some sort of geek-shut-in caricature. It’s not particularly funny, just uncomfortably creepy. Still, you have to applaud him for sticking to his guns right up to the end.

Shed of the Dead is nowhere near the worst film out there, instead it is little more than a tired homage to one of the best known zombie comedy movies out there, bringing little new to the table and offering audiences little real incentive to care about the fates of anyone involved in the story. Knowing nods and winks to better horror movies serve only to remind viewers that they could be spending their time watching those better movies instead of this.

Shed of the Dead is available on digital download now.

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