And then along comes The Ford Brothers', The Dead.
Set in West Africa, The Dead is a throw back to the kind of zombie film, Romero was making back in his heyday. Bleak, stark, serious and layered with political and social undertones, The Dead is a far cry from the mindless, CGI enhanced zombie movies being served up lately. Told in a slow, deliberate manner, shot in 35 mm; The Dead has a sort of sweeping epic feel to it - frankly it's the sort of thing movie goers (especially horror film fans), don't get a lot of these days.
What starts like a Lawrence of Arabia meets Night of the Living Dead hybrid ( a lone figure in desert garb traversing the Saharan landscape whilst dodging or shooting a few really, really, really, slow zombies) eventually reveals itself to be the story of two men looking for hope in a hopeless world. One of the men, Brian (Rob Freeman) is trying to find a plane so he can leave zombie-riddled Africa and get back home to his wife and daughter in the United States) - the other man, Daniel (Prince David Oseia) is trying to find his way to a refugee camp to locate his missing son. Both men are military, and while one is mourning the living death of his beloved country, and the other trying to find his way out, both men bond and form a kinship that is both touching and heartfelt. Despite the hardships and the misunderstandings, they come to depend on the other and a realistic relationship is formed...again, not the kind of thing one gets in modern film very often.
In the end, The Dead will probably alienate most modern audiences who have come to expect hackneyed plots, running zombies, jump cuts and gags - and that's a pity, because this is the kind of film that does not come along very often. I can't help but wonder what Romero thinks of this one (or if he's even seen it), but I suspect that he would approve of the film, and more importantly of its message; lying deep in the soul of this dark, disturbing, (and at times) gory movie is a message about the undying spirit of human kindness and, yes, hope.