Dead Set (2008) review

Dead Set 2008 – British tv mini series review

Creator – Charlie Brooker.

Day 64…Big Brovah House.

This is how it all begins…well, for us viewers any way. By the time this British tv mini-series begins, we are knee deep in the middle of England’s fictional season of Big Brother. It’s eviction night and the crowd outside looks akin to the crowds we see on New Year’s Eve in New York City. The fans are crazed and yelling and the mob mentality is piquing. Soon, and quite unexpectedly…chomp…it’s zombie time, but, per usual, the folks holed up in the Big Brother house have no clue as they have no contact to the outside world.

I have to say, that being a fan of both the US’ Big Brother series and zombie flicks, this was the perfect blending of juicy goodness! The character of Kelly (played by Jaime Winstone), the BB’s runner and do this or that girl, becomes the shows feisty little heroine. She’s the one that eventually invades the Big Brother sanctuary to warn them of the apocalypse that is both behind the two way mirrors and across England. The house guests, being ever narcissistic, think this is a gag and won’t stop for a second to believe that this frantic and panicked girl covered in blood and wielding scissors may actually be telling them the truth…not, of course, until one opens the door she pleads for them not to open and CHOMP! The guests finally start figuring out that it’s no longer all about them.

Now, we Americans won’t get the full impact of this mini series, as, unless we are fanatical Big Brother lovers who watch the seasons from every country, have no clue which one of the extras and flesh eating ghoulies are, in fact, UK Big Brother alum (and there are quite a few I believe). I would tend to think that if this were shot in America, I would get pumped seeing people like Dr. Will dine on the likes of Janelle or Howie, but alas, we just have to settle for enjoying the show for what it is, which is a pretty fun, intense, gruesome, nihilistic, cheeky, reality tv-esque, zombie flick.

Davina McCall of UKBB fame plays both the host and the relentless zombie that holds the most recent evictee Kathleen McDermott’s Pippa and Andy Nyman’s wanker producer Patrick hostage. The scenes between these two characters provide the series with the much needed comic relief…and I use the word relief literally.

The action is not confined to the Big Brother house though, as we get to meet other characters, such as Kelly’s boyfriend Riq, who, after seeing her on the one live feed left in all of England (the sole camera left unaffected being one in BB’s main room), decides he must risk life and limb, dodging gun fire and zombie chomps, to get to his lady love. There is also the, ‘we must leave the house for supplies’ move that always needs to happen in a zombie flick. The detached unreality of reality tv is played out here as well, as one of the contestants picks up a magazine with himself on the cover and gripes about the lies in the rag mag missing the whole ‘no one is left alive to care’ picture.

Overall, I believe that creator Charlie Brooker did a great job of integrating both genres into a nice piece ripe with above decent special f/x (my fave being the fire extinguisher scene), campiness, tv/zombie metaphorical social commentary, comedy, and mixed it all with a hope against a raging hopelessness.

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