Director: David Cholewa
Screenplay: Vincent Jule’
Starring: Fabian Wolfrom, John Fallon, Blandine Marmigére, Lisette Pires, Ruril Sallé
Running Time: 75 mins
BBFC Certificate: 18
The film begins with some great visual effects of comets shooting through the cosmos; great dramatic fireballs of energy and light. As one of these comets falls to earth we see that it is excreting some sort of black essence as it descends into our atmosphere. We know something’s about to kick off. And it does!
An initial sequence shows a young boy hiding in his room as we hear the crash of the comet hit tarmac. Previously calm stepdad suddenly turns into a nutcase and starts attacking Mum. We don’t see what happens to the boy.
11 years later and IT enthusiast / helpdesk-operator-from-home, Chris, is trying not to care too much about the buzz that’s beginning to pick up about the arrival of another comet, and what might happen. In the liquour store a local drunk raves about the odd happenings of a decade ago, and like a mad soothsayer predicts fire and brimstone. Chris befriends a girl, Claire in the neighbouring flat and agrees to meet her at a party to celebrate the coming of the comet. He’s also almost roughed up on the streets by a local gang, until a ‘harder’ guy appears, known to the gang, and ushers them away.
We first notice there might be something odd about Chris when we see that he has to have light all around him, particularly fluorescent lights which he frequently sits up against or stares into, as if energising himself. Indeed, after making his way to the very cyber-punk like party, he had an episode where, starved of light and rapidly developing some sort of sore, he collapses.
At the coming of the comet, things start to get a bit 28 days later. People begin to attack others, breaking into buildings. Couples that were kissing on the corner of a street are suddenly devouring each others heads! Rather ludicrously, an odd shuffling tramp-like man spirits a girl away for a sexual encounter into a side room at the party, and proceeds to enter her with a CGI alien tentacle emerging from his fly, which is then seen coming out of her mouth. Very daft!
From there it’s chaos!. Chris, after surviving an attack in his flat by the gang from earlier (who are all mysteriously murdered by an unseen force before they have time to finish Chris off), hooks up with his girl and the tough-guy who saw off the gang in the first place, and start roaming the streets, tooled up, shooting aliens. (Stifling a slight yawn! Haven’t we seen this somewhere before?)
I was bemused by the fact that, after witnessing humans attacking each other, the emergence in a dark hallway of a full-on real-life alien fiend, straight out of The Thing, is met not by screams of anguish and terror, but little more than a shrug and a gunshot!
Now we KNOW there's something odd about Chris! When a women emerges from the shadows with head and body intact and breasts on display, but with eight hideous spider legs protruding from her abdomen, he’s not repulsed enough and, before finally deciding to shoot her, actually seems to be actually thinking about ‘getting it on’. Claire finds footage on Chris' phone of the assault in his apartment, and it's revealed that he, like a mad ravenous beast, dealt out the brutal punishment on the gang which lead to their demise! Then the penny drops (actually it dropped quite a while earlier, but for the purpose of this review...) – he’s the boy from the start of the film! He is a survivor of the original comet, no longer wholly human, but with an affinity for human beings and his life over the destructive alien force that is rapidly taking over. But will he turn on Claire or lead her to salvation? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out!!
Overall this film is kind of fun but unfortunately is nothing groundbreaking. The alien origins of the main character are a nice twist though, and not really what you expect. It’s billed as ‘The Thing meets Dawn of the Dead’, and while the influence of those films may be there, it’s also borrowing heavily from ideas already thoroughly road-tested in the likes of Resident Evil, 28 Days Later, maybe I am Legend too. However, it is refreshing to see this style of movie done to a reasonably high standard by the French, and not just be watching yet another sci-fi horror courtesy of the U.S.
A nice feature of the disc itself is that you can view the movie as a French language film, turn on the English subtitles, OR you can actually watch it in dubbed English. A thoughtful touch.
Dead Shadows is on DVD from 27 July 2015.