goal of the dead

Review: GOAL OF THE DEAD (2014)

We’ve had all manner of zombies grace the screen over the years, from traditional voodoo raised ones to shambling flesh eaters to high energy running ones. Some could talk or use tools, others were one track minded, locked in on their next meal. There’s been biker zombies and even zombies in love. But, as far as I can tell, GOAL OF THE DEAD is the first time I’ve seen zombies with a soccer fetish.

The film concerns a first division Paris team rounding out its season against a small provincial team, There’s some drama in the fact one of their stars Sam Lorit (Alban Lenoir) came from that town and played for them before jumping to Paris for big money. Now nearing the end of his career, he is watching the team’s up-and-coming young star prepares to sign with London for bigger money.

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Meanwhile, back in the village, the local doctor has been experimenting on his son with homebrew steroids to make sure the homecoming is an unhappy one. Unfortunately, it has some nasty side effects, and he goes on a rampage, infecting others and turning them into zombies as well.

The film has an odd structure, like a soccer match it’s done in two halves, each with a different director. The first half was helmed by Benjamin Rocher  (LA HORDE, ANTIGANG) and the second by Thierry Poiraud (ATOMIK CIRCUS) There is a noticeable difference in style, but they fit together well enough that the film works as a whole.

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It helps that the two halves are also fairly different plot-wise. The first half is all the set-up to the match, long on dialogue and foreshadowing. In the second, all hell breaks loose as the zombie plague reaches the stadium and a small group of survivors is left to fight for their lives. This is much more fast-paced and splattery with some great effects, including the inevitable scene of a zombie head being kicked across the field. The effects are well done and for the most part seem to avoid CGI.

The scenes of carnage in the stadium are also very effectively shot and lit. Fog, smoke, fires and emergency lighting all turning the stadium into a hellscape and adding to the effectiveness of the film.

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Apart from being a solid genre film, GOAL OF THE DEAD also makes some points about professional sports, money, and winning at all costs. While the references to French soccer leagues went over my head the main points about how money has ruined professional sports are pretty much universal.

My main gripe with GOAL OF THE DEAD is the fact it runs an incredible 140 minutes, nearly two and a half hours. This might have worked if it was a two-parter for TV but as one movie it is just too long for the plot to maintain itself. It could easily have been trimmed back to a shorter running time without losing anything important.

Despite its length, and for some the fact it’s subtitled, GOAL OF THE DEAD is a film worth seeing, add in the hockey zombies of AHOCKALYPSE for an even better time.

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