No matter how many times I had heard great things about the 2006 Canadian zombie film, Fido, I still, for whatever reason fronted on it. Finally sitting down to watch it recently, I found myself far from disappointed, and while there are many ways to handle a horror comedy, Fido does so with the sharpest of wit and a double dash of social commentary, avoiding the over-the-top route that many of the genre seem to take.
Directed by Andrew Currie, Fido is set sometime in the 50's where - due to some cosmic space dust the Earth passed through - all of the dead have come back to life, fittingly, with a taste for human flesh. A massive war against the zombies ensued and with the end of that war came the birth of ZomCom (short for Zombie Comedy?), a government funded corporation that found a way to domesticate the living dead so they could be used as servants. Special collars were created to control the zombies, and every household in America has one of their own. These tamed un-dead do everything from laundry and mowing the lawn, to even being used for tasks like delivering the newspaper and working as crossing guards for school children.
Fido focuses on the Robinson's, a seemingly normal family consisting of Bill, his wife Helen and their son, Timmy. While they seem as normal as anyone else does in their perfect little suburb, they lack one thing, a zombie. This is something of an embarrassment for Helen, as it's all about appearance in their snotty neighborhood and being without a zombie is less than the best. Due to a childhood trauma during the "Zombie Wars," (as they're referred to) Bill has always been against getting a zombie, but to fit in with the rest of their neighbors, Helen gets one anyways and Bill begrudgingly goes along with it.
Timmy Robinson, who is sort of a loner and is picked on by his peers, befriends the zombie when he saves Timmy from some bullies. Timmy aptly names his new best friend and pet, Fido, and they form a strong bond much like a boy and his dog would. However, when Fido's control collar malfunctions, he eats one of the neighbors, resulting in a small zombie outbreak and the possibility of the Robinson's being held accountable and being sent to the forbidden zone by the ZomCom corporation. If you can't tell by the name, the forbidden zone is bad news.
Fido relies less on outrageous jokes and goes for the comedy jugular in a much smarter and more subtle way. While there are some very funny moments, Fido is not a laugh riot, but more of a cleverly thought out comedy with a heavy splash of satire on American culture. There's peer pressure to be like everyone else as seen with Helen feeling the need to own a zombie like her neighbors as well as Timmy being bullied for, essentially, not supporting ZomCom. There are moral questions about the enslavement of these flesh eating creatures for personal use and whether or not they really are nothing more than just monsters, or is it fear projected on society that makes these zombie more monstrous than they might be. Are the zombies a product of fear themselves and they react violently due to how the human population reacts to them? With this situation also comes the subject of racism with the zombies taking the place of minorities in this perfect little white bread American setting.
Many of these social issues are as fitting then as they are even in our modern times. Setting the film in the 50's works as that is a time when America is perceived as cookie cutter and easily influenced with the use of fear tactics (Fido fittingly starts off with a propaganda film about the zombies, which is shown to kids in school). It's a perfect contrast to the world we live in today and while some would look back on that time and think how ignorant people were, really, nothing much has changed outside of the country being more cynical and somewhat more informed due to technology. More informed doesn't equate to less ignorant, however.
The 50's setting is perfectly captured and the look of Fido is spot on to that time period but through the eyes of a TV sitcom as opposed to real life. There are great little touches like the edges of the movie being slightly rounded, to make it look as if it's playing on an old styled television or the clearly fake background when characters are driving their cars. There are many elements that are akin to an episode of Lassie, complete with "Timmy" asking Fido to go and find help when stuck in a bad situation. Funny enough, instead of barking to get help, Fido growls and grunts.
All of the portrayals are fantastic with a great cast that consists of Dylan Baker, Carrie-Anne Moss, and K'Sun Ray making up the Robinson's and Billy Connolly playing the titular role of Fido. Carrie-Anne Moss actually stood out the most, as I would never had pictured her being able to play the role of 50's housewife, but she pulls it off incredibly and looks quite nice doing so, which was an even bigger surprise.
Fido is not an in your face comedy like Zombieland, or even to an extant, Shaun of the Dead. With it's setting and how the humor is handled, it is more along the lines of the Tim Burton classic, Edward Scissorhands, than anything else. Even with all of the social commentary throughout the film, it never feels forced, instead, it comes to the viewer naturally during the movie and when further thought is provoked. Even in the oversaturated zombie and horror comedy markets, Fido finds a way to breathe some fresh air into both genres, and I can only suggest you take a whiff of these un-dead flowers for yourself.