Since zombies seem to be the hot horror commodity these days, it certainly makes sense that some filmmakers would take these scary, flesh-eating constructs and have a little fun with them. Case in point: Shaun of the Dead, a truly inspired bit of wackiness that must have had zombie-master George A. Romero rolling in the aisles.
Well, he'll be heading prematurely for the exits with Fido, a decent idea which is carried out with a depressing, and soporific, lack of inspiration. Set in the 1950s, after a worldwide zombie war won by humans, the film suggests that the living have learned how to control the undead with electronic collars, and are now using them to perform menial labor, act as babysitters, etc.
Fido focuses on youngster Timmy Robinson (K'Sun Ray, one of those chirpy child actors you just want to punch), a friendless kid who strikes up a relationship (of sorts) with a zombie housekeeper (Billy Connolly) he names after a dog. Tommy tends to be ignored by his dad (Dylan Baker), who is suffering from a mild case of post-traumatic stress disorder thanks to the recent war. And Tommy's mom (Carrie-Anne Moss, looking pretty stunning in '50s garb) seems to be one of those bored suburban types looking for excitement.
The storyline, such as it is, follows Tommy's increasingly close relationship with Fido, and his attempts to cover up a murder after the zombie's collar temporarily malfunctions. Along the way, it becomes obvious that Mom and Fido begin to have feelings (as much as the undead can have them) for each other, which only complicates an already tense marriage.
In any number of ways, Fido plays like a particularly bent version of Pleasantville, thanks in no small measure to the cheery cinematography of Jan Kiesser. Yet except for the character of Tim Blake Nelson, who plays a leering neighbor with a hottie zombie girlfriend, the film is way too polite to be truly engaging. Can we stereotype for a moment and blame its Canadian creative team? Possibly. Fact is, droll humor goes only so far, and in the case of Fido, the mild, wink-wink attitude is stretched thin to the point of catatonia. There's nothing here that couldn't have been done better in an eight-minute sketch on "Saturday Night Live."