Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Disaster Year: 2008 Awards - Cream of Zombie: Dead Set
Cream of Zombie: Dead Set
Charlie Brooker's Dead Set had the jogging dead lay siege to reality TV mecca, the Big Brother house, for five nights. Originally shown on Channel 4's increasingly dunderhead Heat-magazine channel E4, Dead Set was an island of throbbing nasty in a sea of Friends repeats. If you haven't seen it already, please do. Stop reading this clap-trap and go and find yourself a copy. It's very excellent indeed. Dead Set stands head and shoulders above the heaving mass of me-too run cadaver flicks, that have spilled out all over the road in the wake of Danny Boyle and Alex Garland's 28 Days Later. Yes! That does include Snyder's Dawn of the Dead copyright reactivation, and Spanish lovely REC.
Among Dead Set's great many achievements are rather standard superior horror piece box-ticks like: a palpable sense of dread, cringing suspense, and (80s favourite) inventive meat gaggery. Dead Set goes yet further though. In it's generosity, it includes several genre alien pluses into the mix, chief amongst these is a heroine who has an agreeable level of survivalist sense about her. Jaime Winstone's character is sensible even. How often do you see that? Virtually never. And if you do, their curtailed social un-niceties are usually pored over to the point where the jolt savagery ceases to be fun. Dead Set also has a standard middle-aged male rogue element - he's desperate to plow his own field! - but he's not a rubbish, moustache twirling bastard. Rather, he is simply several steps shyer of any dignity associated with now irrelevant social hangovers. He has grasped the desperation they face, and how low they must sink to survive. He's also a grafter.
If any of that made the series sound boring, rest assured this is also the kind of show where people say things like: "Don't open the gate Joplin you spastic!"