Having kicked things off with a funny on-stage welcome from none other than Bobcat Goldthwaite, Frightfest 14 got underway with much-anticipated sequel The Dead 2: India.

Back in 2010, the directorial team of the Ford Brothers made waves with their original The Dead, a vibrant, fresh take on the well-worn zombie genre that added some much-needed bite to tired traditions.

Mixing in-your-face gore and frantic action with an emotional gut punch, allied to a truly memorable soundtrack, the Africa-set horror rightfully earned the plaudits.

But it is doubtful whether this follow-up will receive the same acclaim, as The Dead 2: India sadly proves a pale imitation of its predecessor.

In all honesty a simple retread of the first film, this sequel does at least make an attempt to link itself to the 2010 edit, with the opening scenes introducing a ship, docking in India, that contains a bloodied passenger ‘bitten by a mad woman in Somalia’.

From there it is familiar territory, with a lone foreigner attempting to make his way through a zombie apocalypse in desperate fashion.

This time around it is American engineer Nicholas Burton, played by Brit Joseph Millson.

Burton, out in the middle of nowhere at the start of the film as he fixes some wind turbines, has to battle his way to Mumbai, where his pregnant Indian girlfriend is barricaded at home with her parents.

So the action shifts between Burton fighting off the ever-increasing zombie hordes and scenes of domestic dispute as Ishani (Meenu Mishra) cops some flak from her father for being up the duff and dating a Yank.

Things are further complicated by Nicholas stumbling across orphan Javed (Anand Gopal), who he decides to take along for the blood-soaked ride as a sort-of guide.

Will Nicholas make it to Ishani? Will there be an answer to the zombie menace? Will things end up happily ever after?

dead 2That would be telling, but there are plenty of twists and turns along the way.

There are plenty of positives here – the action scenes are electric and there are some neatly handled gore moments.

The cinematography, from Jonathan Ford, is truly stunning and the locations raise the film to the next level, with vibrant colours, barren landscapes, crumbling rural temples and bustling slums making for a gorgeous palate.

There is also an evocative score from Imran Ahmad, just the right pitch of local sounds without becoming cliché.

Performances wise it is a real mixed bag – Millson makes an appealing lead, bringing a solid mix of physicality and vulnerability to the role.

There is also nice chemistry between Millson and Gopal, with his decision to risk his life for the child made believable.

But the less said the better regarding Ishani’s family, with their copious scenes coming over as sub-soap opera material.

And it is those emotional scenes that really drag The Dead 2 down – whereas the first film used an emotional subplot to enhance the mood, here the audience is bludgeoned over the head with it, akin to Millson caving in the heads of some zombies with a hammer early on.

There is just far too sentimentality, with one revelation near the film’s climax particularly ridiculous.

Now this might all sound like I had a real downer about The Dead 2, but that really isn’t the case.

And there are a handful of moments of true brilliance that show just what the Ford Brothers are capable of – a gut-wrenching scene involving a family trapped in a crashed car, or a perilous tiptoe through an impromptu burial site for example.

But, with a successful first film comes high expectations for the reprise, and The Dead 2: India just doesn’t stack up.

VERDICT: [rating=3]

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.