Thursday, 29 May 2014
FIDO: Zombies, Ownership, and Other Philosophical Questions
This dark zom-com has a very interesting premise. The film uses concepts of slavery and ownership through the use of zombies. Set in the a futuristic (or alternate) 1950s-style atmosphere, Fido follows a young boy as he tries to make sense of the strange world around him. In a post-zombie-war environment, (the town is named Willard, a Night of the Living Dead reference) a large cooperation Zomcon has made billions by capitalizing on all the horrors. After a nuclear spill left humans vulnerable to re-animation after death, and after a war to subdue the overwhelming number of zombies, Zomcon created a system to enslave those who turn. Now, in a happy post-war era, you can own as many zombies as you can afford and use them as butlers, nannies, even sex slaves.
Obviously, this is problematic. What young Timmy struggles with is whether or not zombies are really dead. This line of thought clearly opens much more complex doors such as who (or what) is entitled to human rights and freedoms. That being said, I should note that while the story seems very explicitly founded on such questions, they are never properly addressed - perhaps this film's largest failing. As the viewer, you should see the connotations from a mile away, and it's very unfortunate that the film opts not to dive in. Instead, it remains always from the perspective of Timmy and his mother, Helen (portrayed by Carrie-Anne Moss), both of whom are on the verge of asking important questions about their world... They just never quite get there.
Instead, owning a zombie for the first time begins to plant seeds of change in their attitudes and understandings. As their minds open, so to does Helen's heart. Her husband's cold distance and disinterest leads her down a complicated road as she begins to see Fido in a new, welcoming, light. This almost romantic storyline serves to introduce the idea that Fido is something more than a dead guy - but it is also rather uncomfortable since it is nearly impossible to gauge how aware the zombies are about their condition. Fido proves to be special when his bond with Timmy proves to be stronger than that of an owner/owned relationship. But it remains unclear whether this is indicative of the zombie race as a whole. And if not, what makes Fido special is a question for which we are given no answer.
While I am not convinced this movie is worthy of much praise, I have to admit the storyline is very compelling. I was dissatisfied at the end, but I also really wanted more, which is actually a bit of a paradox. Perhaps it was trying to do too much in too little time. I think this story would make for a great graphic novel series, which would give it time to develop fully these significant philosophical questions about life, death, ownership, human rights, war... The possibilities are unlimited.