The Dead 2: India (2014) - The first film by the Ford brothers, The Dead (2010) was a solid slow zombie film about two men traveling through the zombie plague of Africa trying to get to their respective families. It was a solid effort with a great location and an unrelenting force that drove the protagonist forward beyond the normal limits of the human experience. Both movies answer the question, In the Zombie apocalypse who would you go back for? What would drive you to risk your life to possibly save someone else. In the original both main characters were driven by love of family. In the new version this is still true but in a different way. Both films take place in less developed countries, Somalia in the original and India in the new film. The stranger in a strange land premise is executed in both film and again there is a bit of uncomfortableness of the white stranger fighting off the dark hordes.
The new film creates a stronger personal story for the main character Nick (Joseph Millson) an electrical engineer working on wind farms fifty miles outside Mumbai. As the zombie outbreak begins he, like Lt. Brian Murphy in the first film finds himself far from civilization and surrounded by the walking dead. The disease that caused the plague in Africa was transported to India by a bitten Indian worker who got out. and because of the billion or so people in the country and the high levels of congested living the plague spreads fast. So as Nick talks to his pregnant girlfriend Ishani (Meenu Mishra) about the chaos breaking out around her he promises to come and get her. So starts his journey through the countryside full of the dead who want to bite him. It is established in the first film that the dead are attracted to the living, somehow they sense that there are living nearby and head towards them. This creates the condition that whenever the living stop to rest that it is just a matter of time before they are surrounded. So secure lockable places although great for a temporary reprieve can become tombs if surrounded by enough zombies.
Nick begins his journey with not enough gas to get to his destination and very little hope of finding any. Set up in the opening scenes we know the local station failed to get a delivery but they also setup the first great set piece by letting us know that there is para-sailing equipment at the station. This consists of a backpack propeller that blows air into the sail allowing the user to fly around. I have a friend who actually has a business using this technology so personally it was very cool to see in a film. So when Nick reaches the gas station fighting off the zombies and being encircled quickly his struggle to get the gear, get on the roof and take off is an action packed tense scene. The shots and music in this film are an improvement over the first film and it really comes through during the action scenes.
Cutting from Nick to Ishani and her family as they are barricaded in their house in Mumbai and feeling hopeless. Ishani's Mother is sick after having been bitten and her father is caring for her. This situation is inevitable so not as interesting as the journey that Nick is on. There is some interesting references about how to reconcile religion at the end of the world. Ishani's father is a preacher of reincarnation and her is put in the position of having to deal with his belief system being challenged.
Nick's journey is one on the physical plane and less the spiritaul. After his narrow escape he crashes his parachute as a device to introduce his traveling companion Javed (Anand Kishna Goyal ) who is a local child of about ten or eleven who plays the role as "the magical child". I am using this term like the more famous "magical negro" in film where they are a character that helps the protagonist on their journey offering wisdom and getting them past places where they are stuck either internally or externally. In this film Javed is a guide one who also is a window into Indian culture and mythology. Unlike the magic negro, who saves the protagonist when things look bleak the magic child at times has to be saved by the protagonist. I counted at least five times where nick needed to save the kid while they traveled together. He is also a sounding board so that Nick could fill out his motivations to the audience. The kid asks the questions and then Nick can tell us viewers why he has to get to Ishani.
The mood feels much more threatening than the original. Where there are more people in this film there are more attacks and some wonderful practical effects around the rendering of flesh. The scenes of city chaos ups the ante over the first film so I believe this film is a step above the first film. Well structured as lovers who are separated in a global crisis who desired to be brought back together it is a worthy story of the lengths people will go through for love and family.
There is enough different in this movie to consider it an improvement on the original but at the same time the Nick story feels very similar to the first film. The relentless searching for transportation, the lack of a safe place to stop and rest, the constant wandering zombies all are the same as in the first film. Still the interpersonal story is more developed and an improvement. This story wanting to be complete in its storytelling goes off the rails a bit at the end of the film. The Javed storyline with his little hand made stuffed animal and how that piece is closed out is ridiculous and far fetched. The final scenes like the first film are bleak and unsatisfying. The Ford brothers Howard J Ford and Jonathan Ford apparently struggle to end a movie. Soresport Movies still recommend this film it is well done with a lot to offer the slow zombie fan but it is just and okay film missing the few elements that would raise it to great.