“Dead Set” is a British mini-series revolving around the TV show “Big Brother.” Oh, and zombies.
There is an unexplained outbreak of the walking (in this case running) undead. It makes its way through a throng of onlookers for the eviction night special of “Big Brother.” Before you can say “hunger for human flesh,” the zombies have made their way on to the back stages of the production, with mainly only the main set itself not being overrun.
Pretty much the plot, right there. This is a five episode mini-series, running nearly two and a half hours in length, so there are some subplots, of course. The producer of the show, Patrick, gets stuck in the green room with one of the cast, Pippa. Our main heroine is Kelly, a production assistant on the show. Her boyfriend Riq is stuck at a deserted train station.
So it is simple, as most zombie related films are. “Dead Set” both excels and fails in this aspect.
The largest problem here is the similarities between “Dead Set” and a number of other zombie films are much too striking. A group of stereotyped survivors (jock, hottie, jerk, bimbo, nerd, black girl, and plucky, average, everygirl…Kelly, of course) are stuck together to try and overcome awesome odds.
This could be, at least somewhat, considered commentary on just the sort of cast they always assemble for these sorts of reality television productions. But it doesn’t really feel that way. Which is something else I found to be a bit disappointing about “Dead Set.” There doesn’t appear to be any real subtext. For a zombie series set in one of the most mind-numbingly dull, despicable, and exploitative of all genres, “Dead Set” pretty much plays as a straight zombie flick, in particular almost exactly like the “Dawn of the Dead” remake. It seems as though they have simply replaced the iconic Romero mall with a television set, and then just followed the fail-safe zombie recipe: A healthy mix of havoc and a reliance on one’s morbid curiosity as to who will live the longest, and how they will eventually expire.
Not that I always want my zombie films to have undertones. And, as I said, this is also where “Dead Set” excels. There is plenty of action, plenty of surprisingly good gore, plenty of gruesome deaths. While the series probably actually worked better as a mini-series, (when was the last time you wished your zombie film was nearly two and a half hours long?) there aren’t too many lulls. I sat down and watched all five episodes at once, so obviously my interest was held from episode to episode.
“Dead Set” is recommendable for fans of the genre looking to see some flesh hungry undead and eviscerations, but reinventing the wheel they are certainly not.
Written by Ryan Venson