The Walking Dead Blu-ray review
As anybody who has ever tried cheating on their girlfriend with a zombie will tell you, walking corpses and love triangles don’t normally mix. (‘Why is there an ear in your pocket darling?’) But this AMC drama, based on the classic comic book series, does its best to balance real human emotion (beyond the usual knicker-wetting terror) with gruesome monsters and genuine horror scares.
It all starts off a bit 28 Days Later, with policeman Rick Grimes taking a bullet, then waking up in a deserted hospital some time later to a world that’s been devoured by zombie plague while he’s been unconscious. He’s understandably confused but doesn’t take long to catch on, and soon he’s in familiar narrative territory – rounding up emotionally damaged survivors, searching for his family, and fleeing the city for the relative safety of the country.
It will all feel familiar to Romero fans, but once the refugees have set up camp, the zombies make fewer and fewer appearances. That leaves it up to the rather second-hand archetypes – strong mother, kindly old man, crazy red neck – to entertain you with their dramz.
In fact, it sometimes feels as though you’re watching a particularly fraught episode of Eastenders rather than the end of the world, as the show chews its way through adultery, domestic abuse and strained family relationships like an especially lumpy bowl of brain porridge. The strong performances help to deliver some touching moments, but it’s hard to focus on an emotional scene by the campfire when you’re furtively anticipating the next scene with guns and corpses and people chained to rooftops.
When gory moments do come along the quality of the special effects is commendable. No cheap and cheerful CGI here – you get entrails, brains and blood that all look real enough to put you off your sausage sandwich (crucial to killing off the potentially farcical element that could have destroyed the character-driven moments). If only there was just a bit more of the gutsy stuff. The Walking Dead is quality TV, and at just six episodes it’s a fetid breeze to get through, but hardcore horror fans should be aware that they’ll be getting as many tortured looks as they will spilled entrails.