“We’re not covered by the NHS.”
“Because we’re dead.”
Billed as “a short documentary about a recovering zombie”, Michael J Dean’s short Already Dead looks at zombies through an interesting lens, and one that allows room for commentary on a number of issues. It’s an original and funny short that still manages to make well-sketched observations on xenophobia (or at least, an irrational, violent fear of the unfamiliar), healthcare and more, feeling like a more lighthearted spin on themes that were touched on in Keith Wright’s exemplary 2011 film Harold’s Going Stiff.
The “documentary” focuses mostly on George, a mild-mannered and retiring zombie who lives, as far as possible, a normal life. His bloodlust is kept under control by a prohibitively expensive drug called Zombenzene, and while the tone of the piece never ventures too far from the lighthearted, a couple of moments concerning George’s struggles – and occasional lapses when he is off his meds – make neatly-spun points about the people in our society who can’t afford the help they need.
Elsewhere, people are shown making angry comments about the zombies and their unwelcome presence in their neighbourhoods, despite their tendency towards trying to live regular, peaceful lives. George’s best friend Jeff is the target of violence during a trip to the park, from an assailant who instantly – and wrongly – claims that Jeff “doesn’t speak a word of English”. Yes, the commentary that’s being made here is fairly obvious, but the allegory does feel chillingly current at a time when mainstream political figures are preying on these very forms of ignorance – and getting away with it. While it doesn’t always hit the emotional notes it sets out to, Already Dead is a charming and witty film of surprising depth.