Have you ever been really disappointed by the title of a film? I’m talking about films like Monster’s Ball, Elephant and Free Willy, films that, when you hear the name without knowing the plot, your mind heads off in completely the wrong direction. I was very disappointed when I found out the Tyrannosaur from the title of Paddy Considine’s recent film was an abusive drunk rather than a giant carnivorous lizard rampaging around a London estate. And so it is with I Walked with a Zombie, less a heart-pulling romance of a woman falling for the reanimated corpse of the man she loved, more a nurse caring for a patient who cannot feel, talk or think, but obeys simple commands and can walk around.
The film reminded me of Shutter Island, with an outsider arriving to a land where everybody seems to be covering up a plot that out protagonist is eager to solve, and with two differing authority figures seemingly in control – here half brothers Mr. Rand and Mr. Holland. An irritating narration persists on detailing forthcoming events, thereby ruining the suspense, and it seems no-one on the island is allowed to have a conversation that doesn’t turn depressing by the third line: “It’s nice to see people happy.” “They’re not always happy…”
Many statements made are ambiguous – the locals insist that the sickly Mrs. Holland cannot be cured, but do not clarify whether this is due to a lack of a cure, or an unwillingness to cure her – and the bug-eyed keeper of the crossroads is hauntingly terrifying, but the plot, involving black magic, witchdoctors and voodoo, was simultaneously too weighty and uninteresting.
Choose life 5/10