Released under the Irish Film Board’s recent ‘microbudget movie’ scheme, Conor McMahon’s Dead Meat attempts to drag Ireland’s horror movie output from the ditch it was thrown in and left in to die by the insufferably bad Rawhead Rex. And although it was clearly lovingly crafted with a definite knowledge of the genre, it suffers greatly from its lack of understanding of the genre, or the techniques it attempts to mimic.
The premise, although just a rehash of countless previous zombie movies is still an effective way of presenting both a humourous and local view of the situation: BSE has mutated into something that first kills and subsequently zombifies anyone it infects. Having run into car trouble in the middle of farm country in Leitrim, Helena must escape and make her way back to safety while avoiding the hordes of undead (both human and bovine) roaming the countryside.
Somewhat unfortunately compared to Shaun of the Dead on release, Dead Meat is similar to Shaun in that it draws on its rich knowledge of horror movies to create a pastiche of the significant releases, such as Night of the Living Dead and Evil Dead. But unlike Shaun of the Dead, the makers of Dead Meat create their movie without any actual understanding of what made these movies so scary in the first place. As a result, they fumble many of the shots they are aping, sometimes missing by a hair’s breadth, but just as often they miss the point completely.
This would be forgivable if the movie had a solid story to support it, but this seems to be missing as well. The story stumbles from one situation to the next without any indication of a solid vision driving it forward. Without a compelling story, it’s left to the actors to bear the weight of the movie, and they’re just not up to it. It’s not until the final act, with the introduction of Eoin Whelan’s Cathal Ceaunt character that we’re given a something that is genuinely lively and entertaining.
The DVD also features a making-of documentary, which was actually more entertaining than the movie itself.
In the end, it’s hard to recommend this movie to people. Fans of the Zombie genre will certainly get something out of it, but what exactly, I’m not sure.