See the return of local boy, Samuel Lorit! Tonight, feel the heat at Lagrippe! Hip, hip, hip!
Ahh, two of my childhood passions combining, zombies and football. Now, before my American readers think this is about their glorified version of rugby, it isn’t. This is very much about the game that the vast majority of the world calls football, you know, the game where you control the ball with your feet.
I have almost mentioned a few times in the past that I love zombie films, and have done since my brother first introduced me to the Resident Evil games in the mid-1990s, so I figure if I am doing this whole month of horror reviews that I should really include at least one zombie film….although let’s face it, it’s probably not going to be the last.
I’ve commented a few times in the recent past that zombies are a movie monster that have long outstayed their welcome. There is very little left to do with the genre, so in many ways I suppose it’s worth combining it with the most popular sport in the world.
Sam (Alban Lenoir) is a footballer for Olympic Paris FC who is returning to his hometown of Caplounge for a cup match, the first time he has been back since a big money move to the team from the capital. His return isn’t welcomed by everyone, especially local hero Jeannot (Sebastien Vandenberghe) willingly injects himself with something he believes will give him an edge, and within seconds it turns him into a bloodthirsty, semi-aware zombie.
Jeannot is not the only person who isn’t happy about Sam’s return and he is vilified by the locals when he steps off of the team coach and it’s revealed that they still blame him for the club’s loss to Olympic 17 years prior, the game in which he had played well enough to convince them to sign him. The match doesn’t go well either as he is sent off.
Whilst going to drown his sorrows, Sam meets Cleo (Daviot) and starts flirting with her. A TV reporter that has been following Sam around suddenly bursts through the door and shows them the approaching zombie horde. Cleo then reveals that Sam is her father.
With various pockets of fans and players from both sides managing to survive, how long can they all last and/or survive?
Have the French made a decent zombie film?
It’s hard to say really as it is effectively two different films in one. For some reason the directors decided to direct half of the film each, so whilst the first half is more comedy and character based, the second half is more serious, violent and concentrates more on action. It feels very disjointed having two very different styles of film-making used, that despite having the exact same characters.
The whole disconnected feeling starts when the first half of the film ends and the second half starts with brand new opening credits, presented in a far different style than the first half. The first half’s opening credits were quite unique and enjoyable, whereas the second half’s was more generic, and therein lies the problem.
Whilst the first half is very enjoyable and interesting throughout it’s 55-minute is run time, the remaining hour of the second half feels very much like just a generic zombie movie. There is pretty much nothing in the second half that I haven’t already seen, and I felt somewhat bored during the second half as I could predict what was going to happen, whereas the first half was very enjoyable.
It wasn’t just the change of style that was somewhat strange, it was also the inconsistencies between the two halves. For example, in the first half you see that the zombies are actually intelligent and are more intent on causing harm rather than eating, ala 28 Days Later, and they infect people by vomiting on them, but in the second half they are the same mindless zombies that you get in any zombie film and the vomiting style of infection is used very briefly in a single scene.
But enough about the differences in style and continuity errors, let’s talk about the rest of the film.
I love that it is basically the story of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” as Sam genuinely expects a hero’s welcome, but gets the opposite. It shows the truly fickle nature of football fans and this aspect of the film was spot on for me. As a fan of Lincoln City, I have seen plenty of players leave the club and whilst most get clapped upon their return with a different club, a lot of others get vilified for the rest of their careers, regardless of how well they did during their spell at the club.
The character of Sam seems completely oblivious to being hated by his hometown fans, then again, when you spend a lot of the opening scenes talking about how old you are and what you plan to do after retirement, it’s not hard to be distracted enough to not realise that people don’t like you. That’s just one example of a LOT of exposition in the film and early on in the film, pretty much the first scene, is a segment shown from a football talk show, and all they do is constantly reiterate how old Sam is, and talk about another character’s imminent transfer to a London based club simply known as “London FC”.
Visually the film feels a lot cleaner and crisp than most other zombie films, with the only exception I can think of being Zombieland, and acoustically it is also relatively excellent, however, there is just something missing, especially from the second half of the film, that makes the film enjoyable overall.
There is a lot of work to establish certain things, such as what is on a cassette tape, that just never pay off because they’re just not that important or worth while to the storyline. For example, that tape is just a group of five fans singing a brand new chant that they have come up with so that it can be played over the tannoy and everyone can join in. The issue with that is that if it’s designed to get people to join in, no-one other than these five know the words, it would take too long to have any meaningful impact, and so long is spent on it that it never feels like the time you’ve invested in that is going to pay off.
Cleo revealing that she is Sam’s daughter also never really pays off either. It’s briefly discussed in part two but for what is presented like a major twist in the story, again it has very little pay off. The character of Cleo is barely developed or even introduced before this revelation, and it just felt like they were trying to force a sub-plot on you without having any real emotion significance attached to it.
And finally, the worst pay off is the character of Jeannot, the closest thing that the film has to a true antagonist. We first meet the character as he is being injected with whatever the hell turns him into a zombie….and that’s it. There is precisely zero character there at all, not on shred of anything to cling on to or become emotionally invested in. His reason for apparently being so pissed at Sam is because he felt that Sam abandoned him to go and fulfil his dreams, however, that is the only thing we learn about him and he is such a weak antagonist that you never really feel that the characters that do end up surviving are not in any real danger.
A film that is divided into two halves for no apparent reason is plagued by inconsistencies and continuity errors, and yet is somehow watchable.
Goal of the Dead is very long for a zombie film, clocking in at just under 2 hours (I have no idea why various sources list it as 144 minutes when from the opening credits to the ending credits doesn’t even pass the 120 minute mark), but you never feel bored watching it, however, after an excellent opening half, the second half is just a generic zombie movie.
The movie, whilst not awful, offers precisely nothing new or majorly original, but if you’ve got a spare two hours and want to see a zombie film, there are far worse available.