Cast: Joseph Millson, Anand Goyal, Meenu Mishra
Running time: 92mins
The lowdown: The Ford Brothers return with this follow-up to their 2010 sleeper hit The Dead. Relocating the action from Africa to India, they offer another zombie movie to sink your teeth into. Blending Indian locations and culture into a classic odyssey story, like its predecessor this once more offers a fresh take on an overpopulated genre.
The full verdict: Despite having made two previous movies, Howard and Jonathan Ford broke through with The Dead. An unusual, dreamlike take on zombie lore, part Nicolas Roeg, part Lucio Fulci, it was the first zombie movie to be shot in North Africa.
The Fords clearly like their firsts – The Dead 2: India is the first foreign zombie movie shot in the South Asian country. And whereas the original Dead movie was stately in pace, here the brothers are in adrenalin action mode.
Reworking the plot to the first movie, The Dead 2: India also has an American protagonist, Nicholas (Millson), who crosses a foreign land fending off zombie hordes to reunite with a loved one, here pregnant girlfriend Ishani (Mishra).
A new element is the young orphan Javed (Goyal), who Nicholas is forced to protect from the flesh-eaters. Adding this father/son dynamic and upping the visceral action prevents déjà-vu taking root, but happily the unusual atmosphere of The Dead is retained.
A filmmaking step forward for the brothers, this time around the Fords beef up the dialogue and emotional meter (assisted by Millson and Goyal’s likeable performances), and the visual ambition (a wind turbine scene plus a sequence with Millson riding through the desert are knockouts).
Accusations of colonialism (white man bashes brown people to get his native girlfriend) seem ill-founded, the cast ethnicity having more to do with maximising chances for global distribution.
Flaws are to be found in some clunky dialogue, moments of performance wobble from the supporting cast, and the outdated concept of a six shooter than never runs out of ammo.
But, effective undead make-up, imaginatively shot gore, well-mounted panic and horror, and a story that soaks the film’s fabric in Indian folklore make this a successful return to the zombie feeding trough.
The Fords have stated they intend to complete the trilogy, possibly shooting in China or Afghanistan. Based on the achievements of first two instalments, a third helping seems a certainty.
And when they’re done with the ambulant deceased, it will be exciting to see what these talented British directors turn their attention to next.