Sur­viv­ing hell

Min­gling with the liv­ing dead can be spine-tin­gling.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE - By EL­IZ­A­BETH TAI

Min­gling with the liv­ing dead can be spine-tin­gling.

THE Walk­ing Dead (TWD) starts with the most ef­fec­tive tool hardly utilised by the schlocky horror shows of to­day: si­lence.

There are no eerie vi­o­lins play­ing in the back­ground as a man in a sher­iff uni­form walks to an aban­doned gas sta­tion. We only hear the sounds of the scuff­ing of his boots on the tar road, and the strangely loud sounds of crick­ets sing­ing. As he makes his way through the maze of hap­haz­ardly parked cars, a sud­den noise freezes our blood.

No, the sound is not loud or jar­ring – some­thing you’d ex­pect of shows like these – it’s merely the soft sound of foot­steps. Such an in­nocu­ous sound, but as the shuf­fling sounds get closer, the ten­sion grows thicker un­til the man dis­cov­ers who – or what – made the sound.

Di­rec­tor Frank Darabont ( Shaw­shank Re­demp­tion, The Green Mile) un­der­stands that it is not cheap tricks like loud mu­sic or ghastly sights that truly scare us. It is the fear of the un­seen, and the sen­sa­tion of suf­fo­cat­ing still­ness.

And when you don’t even have the ben­e­fit of sound (or con­ve­nient eerie mu­sic) to give you a clue of what’s to come, the ten­sion is go­ing to be off the charts. This is why the horror you’ll wit­ness in TWD will stick in your mind af­ter the shock long wears off.

Darabont con­veys fear through sim­ple things like the slow turn­ing of a door knob, and a halt­ing jour­ney down a dark­ened fire es­cape (a par­tic­u­larly nerve-rack­ing scene, that one).

TWD is a show that zom­bie afi­ciona­dos have been wait­ing for. It’s a zom­bie se­ries that is hor­ri­fy­ing with­out be­ing campy or cheap, and which doesn’t shy away from ex­plor­ing the deep, dark is­sues that a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse tends to bring to the sur­face.

When the dead out­num­ber the liv­ing, tough de­ci­sions have to be made, and peo­ple re­vert to ba­sic be­hav­iours just to sur­vive. Fans will be mighty pleased with Darabont’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion be­cause if the pi­lot is any in­di­ca­tion, he doesn’t flinch away from deal­ing with these heavy and of­ten po­lit­i­cally-in­cor­rect is­sues.

Based on a suc­cess­ful se­ries graphic nov­els by Robert Kirk­man, TWD be­gins with Rick Grimes (Bri­tish ac­tor An­drew Lin­coln), a sher­iff’s deputy who wakes up from a coma to the worst day of his life. The hos­pi­tal he was in was strewn with de­cay­ing corpses and ... the dead is walk­ing around. Be­cause there’s no con­ve­nient pro­logue to ex­plain how the dead are sud­denly “alive”, we dis­cover the new, rav­aged world through Grimes’ eyes.

How­ever, Malaysians will only get to watch a “wa­tered-down” ver­sion of Darabont’s dark world. Scenes in­volv­ing gun vi­o­lence have been censored, which is deeply un­for­tu­nate as some cru­cial scenes were un­nec­es­sar­ily trun­cated and the im­pact of the horror is muted.

Since this is a zom­bie show, there’s go­ing to be a lot of gun vi­o­lence, so the edit­ing of the orig­i­nal will prob­a­bly be badly ef­fected. A pity.

One sav­ing grace is that TWD is mostly about in­di­vid­u­als and their strug­gle to sur­vive this new world phys­i­cally and men­tally, as such we’re more in­vested in their tales.

Grimes, for one, sto­icly dons his po­lice uni­form – it ef­fec­tively serves as a psy­cho­log­i­cal ar­mour of sorts – and slowly makes his way to At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, where he be­lieves his fam­ily will be.

Lin­coln plays Grimes as a quiet, cow­boy fig­ure with a firm idea of what’s right or wrong, but when he first wakes up, the man is nowhere as sure. He does a fine job por­tray­ing Grimes’ ini­tial be­wil­der­ment and ut­ter ter­ror, and in a pow­er­ful scene, Grimes – over­come at last by the horror of what he has seen – pleads with him­self: “Is this real? Am I here? Wake up!”

While in the comic Grimes quickly re­cov­ers from the ghast­li­ness of it all, Lin­coln’s char­ac­ter is more re­al­is­tic and hu­man, he shows both strength and frailty won­der­fully.

In the pi­lot, we only get glimpses of the other sur­vivors (Grimes’ wife Lori, his son Carl and his good friend and fel­low po­lice of­fi­cer Shane) and there is a strong hint that there are sur­vivors in At­lanta as well.

I can’t wait to see how they will work to­gether to sur­vive this hell. But I have a strong feel­ing that it’s not go­ing to be easy, though that’s what makes it so njoy­able. n TheWalkingDead is shown at mid­night on Fri­days on Fox HD (Astro Chan­nel 726). The re­peats are on Satur­days (noon and 6pm).

Sarah Wayne Cal­lies is Lori Grimes in TheWalkingDead.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.