Director – Andrew Currie, Screenplay – Robert Chomiak, Andrew Currie & Dennis Heaton, Story – Dennis Heaton, Producers – Blake Corbet & Mary Anne Waterhouse, Photography – Jan Kiesser, Music – Don Macdonald, Visual Effects Supervisor – James Tichenor, Visual Effects – Spin West VFX (Supervisor – Doug Campbell), Special Effects Supervisor – Randy Shymkiw, Makeup Effects – Mastersfx, Inc. (Supervisor – Todd Masters), Production Design – Rob Gray. Production Company – Anagram Pictures/Telefilm Canada/British Columbia Film/Canadian Television Fund/Movie Central/Chum Television/Space: The Imagination Station/The Movie Network/CanWest Western Independent Producers Fund/ZomCom Motion Pictures Division Inc.
K’Sun Ray (Timmy Robertson), Billy Connolly (Fido), Carrie-Anne Moss (Helen Robinson), Dylan Baker (Bill Robinson), Henry Czerny (John Bottoms), Tim Blake Nelson (Mr Theopolis), Aaron Brown (Roy Fraser), Brandon Olds (Stan Fraser), Alexia Fast (Cindy Bottoms), Sonja Bennett (Tammy), Mary Black (Mrs Henderson), Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (Miss Mills), Jennifer Clement (DeeDee Bottoms)
It is the 1950s, several years after a meteorite has sprayed a dust that has caused the dead to return to life as zombies. Following the Zombie Wars, the ZomCom corporation has created a special collar that inhibits the zombie’s appetite and allows them to be domesticated as servants. Housewife Helen Robinson surprises her husband Bill by buying a zombie. Bill has a fear of zombies ever since he had to shoot his father during the Zombie Wars. However, their son, the young and friendless Timmy, befriends the zombie, giving it the name Fido. Fido proves kindly and friendly to Timmy and Helen who both need a male figure in their lives with Bill always being at work. When Timmy takes Fido to the park, school bullies accidentally knock his collar and it goes on the blink whereupon Fido devours the cranky old neighbour Mrs Henderson. Timmy is forced to hide the body, but not before Mrs Henderson has devoured others who in turn also become zombies. The sudden outburst of zombies makes their new neighbour, ZomCom head John Bottoms, suspicious and Timmy is forced to cover up things lest his new best friend Fido be taken away.
Fido was another entry in the spate of Zombie Films that have been revived in the 00s, following the successes of 28 Days Later (2002) and the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004). Fido follows in the steps of Shaun of the Dead (2004), which paved the way for a more comic treatment of the zombie film. Fido was a Canadian-made production from Andrew Currie, a relative newcomer director. The film played theatrically and at various festivals but flopped badly in theatrical release where it holds the record for the film with the lowest return on its production costs ($250,000 back on an $8 million budget).
Fido has an appealing premise. It posits a satirical alternate version of the 1950s where zombies have become domesticated – it could almost be a feature-length extension of the coda of Shaun of the Dead, which shows the aftermath of a zombie outbreak where the zombies have all been domesticated. (Although, on the dvd extras, Andrew Currie says what inspired him was the character of Bub in George Romero’s Day of the Dead (1985) – the zombie that started remembering human behaviours). When people reference the Zombie Wars, it is clearly an alternate history version of World War II where the same combat imagery is used but with zombies instead of Germans and Japanese.
The most amusing aspect is the film’s parody of 1950s life. Andrew Currie gets just right the sense of suburban conformity with the pipe-smoking neighbour, the father off to play golf while the wife prepares the perfect dinnertable, the big finned period cars cruising through the streets. Added into the mix are perfectly droll images of zombies working as milkmen, delivery people, paperboys, gardeners, holding umbrellas, even the implication that Tim Blake Nelson has kept his cheerleader zombie for sexual purposes.
The colours have a hyper-real richness exactly like Fido were some Technicolor film from the 1950s era. Andrew Currie and his writers play everything with a wonderful sense of internal consistency – the script takes the ideas to their logical conclusion in asking how such a society would work. The cast pull the premise off with tongues perfectly in cheek and nary a moment when they break face or where Andrew Currie disrupts the self-containment of the world for the purpose of a quick joke.
The story works perfectly charmingly. It is essentially a story of how family dissatisfaction – a lonely kid desiring a father figure/best friend and a neglected housewife missing affection – finds expression through friendship with a kindly zombie. It could almost be a satiric version of Far From Heaven (2002) where instead of Julianne Moore engaging in a forbidden liaison with an African-American gardener, a housewife does with a zombie.
Everyone here plays well, especially Scottish comic Billy Connolly, unrecognisable behind the makeup as the title zombie. Connolly’s is an unspeaking role, one that he plays through stumbling mannerisms and snarls, yet where he manages to create a mix of sympathy with his doleful eyes alone. It is a charmingly appealing variant on a boy and his dog story.
Director Andrew Currie later returned to genre material with the backwoods horror Barricade (2012).