Fido was a zombie film that I had heard mentioned plenty of times over the years, yet it wasn't something I ever really felt an urge to watch. Mainly I think due to not really being too keen on Billy Connolly (who plays the titular role). I was so out of the loop on this one that I thought it was first released in the early 1990's and so was quite surprised to find out this was released in 2006, two years after Shaun of the Dead. Fido was directed and co-written by Andrew Currie who had some slight previous experience of zombie movies with his 1997 short, Night of the Living.
The film takes place during an alternate 1950's America in which some years previously there had been a zombie apocalypse. A solution to this problem was found with the creation of large impenetrable walls around the towns and cities, as well as the invention of a special collar which in effect domesticates the undead and allows them to perform menial jobs. The film starts when Bill Robinson (Dylan Baker - Trick 'r Treat) and his wife, Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss - The Matrix trilogy) get their first zombie helper (Connolly), a ghoul who their young son, Timmy (Kesun Loder) takes an instant liking to. Due to a malfunctioning collar Fido ends up killing a neighbour, this begins a chain of events that leads to a local zombie outbreak, and Timmy's desperate attempts to hide Fido's slip up.
This is basically the idea presented at the end of Shaun of the Dead (zombies domesticated) and fleshed out into a feature length movie. While I'm not keen on Connolly I was also put off by watching this for so long due to all the quotes stating how funny it was. I had a feeling the comedy wouldn't be the kind I like and I was pretty much correct. A lot of the humour revolves around how stereotypically 1950's small town America this is, juxtaposed with rotting corpses walking around everywhere. In a way it shares a feeling with the Fallout games. Families are made up of stern fathers, mothers who cook and clean, and children who play baseball, all set in the roles you would expect for the time period. The zombies add in a curve ball, and it was amusing how little concern for death and destruction people have. The middle act of the film has Timmy trying his best to cover up Fido's kills, yet him, and those around him don't treat any of this as much more than business as usual. There is a macabre underbelly to Fido, a darkness that lurks around the corners but never stains the genial facade of the movie world. Things are mentioned in passing that show how twisted this all is, such as the fact that there are no prisons anymore, instead people who commit crimes are thrown out of the walled towns and cities to fend for themselves in the 'wild lands'.
The cast are all well chosen, and all of them look the part with no one seeming out of place. There are not really any proper bad guys here, even the antagonist, the Robinson's new neighbour, and former 'Zombie War' hero, Tony Bottoms (Henry Czerny - Ready or Not) is acting for what he sees as the greater good. Connolly does a lot with a little, his role requires no speaking, the most he gives is grunts and groans. Much of his acting comes from his facial expressions. I guess in this modern day you could see some of the side characters as having troubling aspects to them. One of Timmy's neighbours has a zombie girlfriend, someone who he picked out for this role. Over the course of the movie this quasi relationship seems to take on a more two sided feel, yet this started off as non-consensual, so it never sat right for me.
Before watching this I had assumed that Fido would be the only undead here, it was pleasant to realise there are plenty of the walking dead, and a lot more violence than I expected. There are several zombie outbreaks over the 88 minute run time, and while the blue look for the domesticated undead serves the purpose of making them easily identifiable, there were also a decent sized amount of traditional looking zombies. Often undead attacks are used for comedic purposes, with the film not shy on children falling prey to them and returning back to life. Being a comedy the horror is only ever slight, but was far more than I ever expected, and with the attractive sets and locations it created a wonderful look. The two films might not sound alike on paper, but the general outline of the plot, and the whimsical feel brought to mind 2017's The Shape of Water.
Fido was a lot better than I thought it would be, which of course is a good thing. The style of the humour was not really to my liking, but it was fine enough. I liked how good the whole film looks, the style of the film itself was pleasant, and I did enjoy this, but it never felt like a film I would ever have the urge to view again.