The Dead 2: India is a 2013 British zombie horror film written and directed by Howard J. Ford (The Ledge; The Lockdown Hauntings) and Jon Ford. It is a sequel to the 2010 film The Dead, which was set in Africa.
Filmed in five weeks, in locations across India, including Rajasthan, Delhi and Mumbai, The Dead 2: India stars Joseph Millson, Meenu, Anand Goyal, Sandip Datta Gupta and Poonam Mathur.
American engineer, Nicholas Burton (Joseph Millson, Devil’s Bridge), is toiling in the barren countryside of India, working on wind turbines and fretting about his girlfriend, Ishani (Meenu Mishra) who is 300 miles away on the edge of the slums of Mumbai, under the watchful eye of her disapproving father (Sandip Datta Gupta), who is about to get even more ruffled when he learns she’s pregnant. They will shortly have more to worry about because Ishani is in bed with a bit of a chomp wound.
Elsewhere, a ship from Somalia, docks, one of the passengers stumbling off the ship, not quite himself since he was bitten by a crazy woman. In the cramped streets of the sprawling city, it isn’t long before his newly-found passion for eating human flesh has turned viral, sensible folk taking shelter behind the locked doors of their homes. Burton telephones Ishani and advises her to stay put whilst he makes his way to save her – his work colleague, nearer to the city, recommends avoiding heroics and getting to one of the planes which are shuttling foreign nationals out of the danger zone.
300 miles suddenly feels more like 3000 for Burton and his initial attempts to get there via a parachute powered by a giant fan (no, really) are jettisoned as quickly as he is deposited on the desert floor. Fleeing, he meets an orphaned child, Javed (Anand Krishna Goyal), who is rather obliged to tag along, lest the film carry on with Burton talking to himself. Luckily, Javed knows his way around every inch of India, despite it being the world’s 7th largest country, and so can give his new mate, ‘Mr Nicholas’, the very best directions in their newly acquired car.
There are inevitably mishaps across the desert and after abandoning their car, they ‘borrow’ a motorbike, only to have it nicked off them by a desperate local who needs to urgently visit his cannibalistic kids. After Javed is rescued by a Chinook loaded with refugees, Nick is forced to stagger through the burning sun alone, evading zombies and hoping his beloved hasn’t already become one of the shuffling rot bags. Will he honour his promise to meet Javed at the refugee camp? Will he get to the girl in time? Is mother hungry?
Firstly, let us dispense with the formalities – if you didn’t like the first The Dead film, which is absolutely everyone I’ve spoken to about it, you aren’t going to be converted by this. Millson is a more accomplished lead but there again, he is given far more to do, as opposed to the silent and solemn mystery of The Dead’s protagonist. You will need something approaching titanium-strength tolerance to Javed’s constant appeals to ‘Mr. Nicholas’ which ultimately borders more on the entrenched racism of Love Thy Neighbour than Eat Thy Neighbour. The rest of the acting is appalling, the chief offender being Ishani, the whole thing being a terrible affair best forgotten.
It’s easy to see why the Brothers Ford fancied another shot at relocating zombies to an unfamiliar locale, but that is also the film’s failing. It is a complete re-run, the trek across the desert naturally being the same, apart from Nick apparently not suffering too much from thirst and having a side-kick.
Our hero has a remarkable knack for avoiding being infected, unlike everyone else in the film who suffer particularly satisfying bites to the extremities – for all its faults, there is no questioning the cinematography or special effects.
With an inexhaustible supply of bullets, it does feel like you’ve pressed ‘cheat mode’ on a computer game, a pleasing and quite believable twist at the end making such frippery just about palatable. Just to ensure the saris and turbans aren’t enough, the original soundtrack is re-used but with added sitar and rhythms. It’s an easy, no-brain watch but there are hints at a real opportunity and the fact they largely go untapped is enormously frustrating.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA
Speaking about this sequel in Cannes, Howard J. Ford commented: “Jon and I knew we’d get around to making a sequel one day as there was plenty of scope to where we could take our idea of abject horror and emotional devastation presented against a stunning natural backdrop.
But it was while we were escorting The Dead to various film festivals around the world, listening to the overwhelmingly positive feedback and reading all the Internet comments, that we felt compelled to make another film pretty quickly to satisfy the demand we knew was out there.
We wrote the sequel frighteningly quickly, tapping into every constructive comment from true fans of the genre so we could make a film we feel we owe to all the people who supported The Dead“.
Jon Ford added, “We still felt our creative itches hadn’t been scratched and that we needed to continue our adventure into the living dead unknown. There just seemed to be too much talk and anticipation about us making another zombie movie we couldn’t ignore. So we thought let’s do it! Part of the magic of The Dead was its minimalism both in terms of dialogue and how it played out in the road movie style. Not everyone was going to get that and we knew it. So we decided to embellish the story this time with a few more mainstream elements without losing what was so special about the first film”.
Howard concluded, “There was a tenderness to The Dead that thankfully people loved and the character connections are what many warmed to. Thus it was important to include those aspects again and add to them because we want The Dead 2: India to pull on your heartstrings as much as we want the exciting and violent elements to thrill you”.