Written and directed by Adam William Cahill, as viral videos seem to evidence the fall of Dublin at the hands of the undead, four Millennials in rural Ireland can’t discern fake news from real. Has a dependent lifestyle left them too naive to weather their fate?. Starring: Luke Corcoran, Tadhg Devery, Marybeth Herron, Luke Collins, Cristina Ryan and Aidan O’Sullivan.
The style of Follow the Dead makes a key impression early on because it feels familiar in the best of ways, like the early days of Edgar Wright with Spaced and Shaun of the Dead. It introduces that sense of humour heavy with sarcasm and it works really well, starting out on strong footing. It’s arguably the biggest strength the film has because it creates such a lovable and easy to watch personality. Visually, it feels akin to a sitcom but with a more grounded atmosphere. It keeps the everyday feel going alongside its comedy, avoiding becoming over the top or too silly.
Exploring social media in the story is nicely relevant because let’s be honest, in this day and age at the beginning of a zombie apocalypse, so many people would die from just being too busy videoing it to survive. As well as the idea that with improved AI and special effects, it can be difficult to trust what you see on social media. However, there’s a mixed success to the different elements of the story, the actual disaster aspect is done well but bringing through family and relationships isn’t as strong. There’s a switch in gears as the film enters its second half, the first is fun and enjoyably chaotic but then the story becomes sentimental as it drives towards the finale.
The pacing slows down and its characters become reflective which unfortunately creates a tone that doesn’t quite match the rest of the film. It’s a shame not to keep the higher energy going that it established earlier on, that cheeky edge. Changing things up to become emotional means it needed a bigger rise in tension or suspense to compensate, which doesn’t quite arrive and makes for a less satisfying ending. The intention is there to create relatable, sweet and underdog styled characters and it works but trying to give them a bigger depth is a tall order in a comedy horror.
Although, in fairness to Luke Corcoran’s performance, he does do a great job of balancing humour and emotion in a convincing and captivating way. The choice to make things emotional may struggle in the larger sense of the film but Corcoran’s portrayal does capture it. Whereas Tadhg Devery keeps things light and free flowing, a classic character who completely underestimates the danger he’s in. He’s entertaining and charming, and is supported in a buddy-cop kind of way by Luke Collins, who brings a quirky edge. Cristina Ryan, similarly to Corcoran, hits both the comedic and emotional notes well, she feels like a strong, authoritative and responsible presence which pairs well with the leading ragtag bunch of housemates.
Follow the Dead is a fun zombie outing but gets its feet tangled in emotion as it approaches the finish line. It has a great ensemble of characters and an entertaining feel, it doesn’t rely too much on violence and effects but trying to add a larger emotional depth was a touch too much to ask. It’s initially there, Luke Corcoran and Cristina Ryan do well to create that ex-partner tension, but pushing that introspective theme further becomes a distraction from its entertaining atmosphere. It’s simply missing that extra kick to the tension and suspense to balance out its sentimental side.