Jack Murphy celebrates Adam William Cahill’s morbidly funny first time feature Follow the Dead.
What happens when you take Shaun of the Dead, mix it with a bit of The Young Offenders, and then throw that mixture into a blender? Simple, you get Adam William Cahill’s new feature Follow the Dead. But is it a film that can live up to its wacky premise and wide array of influences?
We find ourselves in the ideal setting for a zombie apocalypse story: the countryside of county Offaly. While on an unsuccessful date, Robbie (Luke Corcoran) learns of some suspicious sightings from Dublin City, presumed to be the start of a real-life zombie outbreak. Quick to brush it off in true Irish “ah sure lookit” fashion, Robbie isn’t too worried. What’s more, on top of these possible undead sightings, word gets out of a gang of revolutionaries using this outbreak to make their movement noticed. Now Robbie, his sister Liv (Marybeth Herron), and their cousins Chi (Tadhg Devery) and Jay (Luke Collins), must try their best to stay alive during a zombie outbreak, in the most Irish millennial way possible.
It’s all veryself-aware, due in no small part to the winning chemistry of the film’s solid cast. The main four nail the millennial attitudes expected from these characters, and frequently lead to laugh-out-loud banter throughout. Devery and Collins are the standout duo here, their overly quirky personalities sharing some of the most memorable moments and quips. The sequences of zombie action, while not as plentiful as you would expect, are tremendous fun, and this is where the film really finds its groove. They’re bloody, pulpy, packing some genuine scares, and even make deft use of the family’s rural bungalow as the setting. They’re exactly what you want from a film of its kind, even if they’re somewhat derivative of other zom-coms.
Something that may come as a surprise is that Follow the Dead concerns itself more with the effects of the combined zombie/revolutionary outbreak on the people of Offaly, in an interesting subversion of zombie movie tropes. Robbie’s sister Liv—an aspiring YouTube sensation—decides to utilize the ongoing events as a way of promoting her brand, while Jay uses his love of horror movies to theorize how it’s all happening, much to the dismay of his brother. The family bond is handled well, although outweighs the action at points, leading to the film feeling slightly unbalanced. On top of this, there’s the romantic subplot in Robbie reuniting with his ex, Kate (Cristina Ryan), now a Garda working on the unfolding case.
There’s certainly a lot more going on than you would expect from a traditional zombie movie, but in a way this gives Follow the Dead more of an individual voice, even if it is a little overstuffed with ideas. This is an entertaining romp that’s full of heart and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Follow the Dead is available to stream online now.