Director: Thierry Poiraud, Benjamin Rocher
Screenplay: Quoc Dang Tran, Nicolas Peufaillit, Ismaël Sy Savané, Tristan Schulmann, Hélène Tolède-Couronne, Laëtitia Trapet, Marie Garel Weiss
Producers: Delphine Bellonnet, Raphaël Rocher, Jérôme Vidal
Starring: Alban Lenoir, Charlie Bruneau, Tiphaine Daviot, Ahmed Sylla, Bruno Salomone, Patrick Ligardes
BBFC Certification: 18
Duration: 140 min
When the Parisian football team Olympique head to the small town of Capelongue for a minor match against their local team, the most eventful thing on anyone's minds is the potential transfer of their star player, and the trepidation of the team's oldest player, Sam Lorit, at returning to his home town, which he left seventeen years ago, abandoning the home team to mediocrity. However, when the spurned father of a Capelongue player tries out a new steroid-like injection on his son, it soon leads to an outbreak of rabid, blood-thirsty rioters terrorising the stadium.
If a film comes along titled Goal of the Dead, it comes with a certain amount of expectation, most of which tends to fall into the negative category. This is largely due to a propensity for recent zombie-style movies to not be very good, especially the ones that haven't necessarily had a huge release, and sound a bit silly. Therefore, I went into this film with a certain level of trepidation, not helped by the plot revolving around football, a sport I'm not overly keen on. In fact, the very notion of seeing football players and fans being transformed into mindless, violent monsters with a desperate need for brains had me wondering whether I'd be able to tell the difference. As it turns out, these low expectations were entirely unjustified, as Goal of the Dead was actually a lot of fun.
First things first, this isn't technically a zombie movie. Yes, it follows the standard tropes of people who are turned from normal, terrified human beings into slavering, raving horrors via a bite or blood intake of some kind, but they aren't traditionally zombies, in the same way that the Rage-infected people in Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later aren't really zombies either. In fact there are several parallels between the two films, including a character being infected in a very similar way to an iconic shot from that movie. A clear difference between standard zombies and the 'roided-up monstrosities here is that not only are these guys fast - which I'm more than OK with in terms of zombie evolution - but they ain't half violent either. Also, and this is sickeningly awesome in my book, but one method of infection seen here is vomiting. And I don't mean your standard lumps of carrot and a trickle of pea soup, this is full on floods of milky white projectile torrents, often aimed directly into the face at point blank range. It made me feel a little ill, to be honest, but it was also pretty damn funny.
That's right, this is a comedy. I wasn't expecting it to be as comedic as it is, but I'm grateful that it was. Of the three main sets of characters we follow - the Parisian team with their manager, agent and a reporter following one of the players, two home-town fan girls with connections to the club and four slacker louts aiming to ridicule the away team - the latter group are played entirely as comic relief, and many elements of the others are too. Granted, some of the comedy doesn't work too well - during the attack, one player distracts an infected adoring fan by, for some inexplicable reason, doing a little dance - but for the most part it's pretty hilarious, particularly the interactions our lead - Alban Lenoir - has with the less-than-adoring women he encounters during the attack.
As survival monster movies go this plays with the formula a little by allowing some characters to survive who might normally be killed off, and vice versa, meaning barring a few obvious fates you're kept guessing for the majority of the movie. Also, a great deal of time and attention has been paid to the cinematography, meaning there is some truly stunning camerawork here, especially in the climax. Unfortunately it didn't really fit the feel of the film overall - arguably it all looked too good - and the finale had the air of a Nike commercial instead of a zombie-like showdown. Still, that's original in terms of these kinds of films, but it didn't stop it being utterly ridiculous. And speaking of ridiculous, one personal bugbear I have is the use of glaring fictional team names, such as the apparently prominent English football team London United, which if you're wondering is actually a bus company.
There's some innovative kills - decapitation via manual rotary car window is a possible stand-out - and there's more than enough gore to satisfy any horror fan, with plenty of laughs to go along with it. Some scenes aren't quite played out as well as they could have been, but elsewhere there's more than enough to keep zombie fans engaged. And don't worry if you're not a fan of football, there's not actually that much of it in the movie, and you get to see hundreds of football fans die horribly!
Goal of the Dead is out now on DVD & Blu-Ray from Metrodome Distribution Ltd.