SXSW Movie Review: Dance of The Dead

To be honest, I didn’t expect much from this film. It looked like a cheesy zombie flick about high school kids trying to get laid on prom weekend, on a really low budget. What I found though, was a zombie/prom weekend film that ended up being one of the best surprises of the festival.

Jimmy can’t take life seriously, and his girlfriend Lindsey is ready to move on. The local power plant has been causing some problems through the graveyard, namely zombies. Zombies start attacking the town on prom night, and the only ones left to save the town are a bunch of kids and their high school gym teacher. Armed with bats, sledgehammers, garden tools and guitars, these teens are in for a prom night that they will never forget.

At first glance, Dance of The Dead seems to be just another cheesy low budget horror film. The film takes a turn though, and becomes a thrill ride that never takes itself too seriously. The turning point for the film was the graveyard scene. I felt like a little kid watching the spectacle on screen. The stunts in this film were awesome, and you could tell that this cast just had a great time with this project. There was an amazing tracking shot that showed the kids running from terror, as the graves were literally exploding open and launching the zombies out in full stride. It was awesome. This scene, and many others, makes this little indie zombie movie one of my favorite horror films in a long time.

The performances from the young actors were better than you could expect. The group of young actors work together surprisingly well. The film was extremely fun, and the screening had a small surprise that was really cool. At the most climactic point in the film, a small explosion of confetti went off in the Alamo Drafthouse. You can tell that the filmmakers were doing something that they really loved, and it poured out onto the screen.

The film never tries to shove any serious point down your throat, and is very comfortable with what it is. If you love zombie movies, teen comedies or just guilty pleasure films then Dance of The Dead is a must see. This is one of my biggest surprises of SXSW and If you have a chance to see this one, don’t miss it. The film left itself open for a possible sequel, so with enough attention we might be able to see another Dance of The Dead.

Grade: B+

Dance of the Dead is directed by Gregg Bishop. It stars Jared Kusnitz and Greyson Chadwick. It made its world premiere at SXSW on March 9, 2008. It will release in theaters on October 20, 2008.

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