Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Deadville - Review

Its a troubling thought, I dwell on more than most, when writing this blog. Often wondering why I have such a love/hate relationship with locally made films from Northern Ireland. Though I'm an vivid supporter of the stellar talent this country produces, I find myself being its worst critic at times also. Over a year on from my last local experience, I'm back to Queen's Film Theatre to view another Northern Irish movie, the d├ębut feature from director Kieran Majury - Deadville.

The general plot of Deadville follows closely to the usual zombie thriller formula. Most of Ireland's population is dead from a horrific virus, and those left alive face an un-living nightmare. David (an impressive performance from Neal McWilliams) is on a quest to find a cure, for his beloved girlfriend, amidst the chaos; leading him to a strange encounter with a mysterious couple.

Upon entering the cinema I was given a flyer describing Deadville as a feature that shows having a low budget - £800 - should never be an issue, which is a commendable statement, nevertheless the message the film was trying to convey suffered greatly because of this.

Due to the aforementioned constraints it felt as though Deadville was being, tightly, held by a leash. Never having the chance to fully let loose with its intended blood and gore factor, which it was in dire need of, at times. The 'psychological horror' element was also ill-conceived rarely having the chance to delve into the troubling psyche of the protagonist. It possibly could have done without the genuinely cringing prologue which felt more like an advert for Storm Cinemas than the intro to a horror film.

Deadville often succeeded when setting its locations out in the wilderness areas, amongst bleaker settings, such as the loving couple's hideaway, conjuring memories of another Northern Irish feature, Ditching. However Deadville took a gamble to also expose the audience to a deserted backdrop of Belfast, which unfortunately failed because the film-makers didn't have the resources to turn the city into a desolate area. I find it comforting to know, it may be the end of the world, but at least there's minimum litter and vandalism problems...

I personally find, the highly lucrative, market for all things zombie-related a tired genre these days. The film ultimately lacks from a genuine focus in its overall theme, juggling from being a bleak psychological horror to shifting, at times, to an uneasy black comedy. These ideas have been performed time and time again by more innovative films such as 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead. What's even more disappointing is the fact Deadville isn't even the first zombie film to be shot in the Belfast area (I've yet to see Battle of the Bone for the record).

Final Thoughts
Deadville is a piece of low budget film making which, for a first attempt, all cast and crew can certainly be proud of. Decent performances and a chilling score also add weight to a solid argument that there is definitely potential here. Though everyone must start somewhere, lessons must be learnt, and perhaps a more original, focused and visually pleasing film will bare fruit when the producers decide go the extra mile and inject more than £800 into their productions - which in the current economic climate is far easier said than done I realise. If at first you don't fully succeed, lads, please try again!


See This If You Liked...
George A Romero films (Night of/Day of/Dawn of/Diary of the Dead etc etc), Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Battle of the Bone

Deadville is being shown on May 1st 2010 as part of the Queen's Film Theatre's zombie season, The Life and Times of the Living Dead.

For full details:

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