Is Andrew Currie’s Fido, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2006, underrated? It’s not like no one’s ever heard of it, and it seems well-liked. Still, for whatever reason, I get a sense that it’s a bit overlooked, even on its 15-year anniversary. Then again, this is not a movie you’d want to build up too much anyway as it’s damn near perfect in its comedy horror simplicity. However, I like to annoy people and complicate things, so I’ll delve a bit into what I recall about Fido‘s extensive social commentary.
First, I have to mention how Billy Connolly seems to breathe life (no pun intended) into the character of Fido, a “pet” zombie for an ostensibly typical 1950s-like family. Yes, he is a pet, trained via some snazzy collar that pacifies a zombies’ brain at any time, removing the urge to eat human flesh, while making them subservient to perform human chores. The company behind the device, ZomCon, seems to dominate the zombies through this device rather than fully prevent the zombies’ infection. Have a loved one who recently transformed? Take them to a ZomCon lab for “treatment” and, to an extent, you, too, can hypothetically control your zombie relatives.
A tasty sample of what Fido has to offer:
It is a bit of a hellish world, but people make the best of it. Fido’s human family, the Robinsons, consists of young Timmy (K’Sun Ray), patriarch Bill Robinson (Dylan Baker), and repressed housewife Helen Robinson (Carrie-Anne Moss). Somewhat like Pleasantville (which isn’t horror but certainly worth recommending), Fido parodies 1950s idealism and subjugated attitudes wonderfully. In reality, not everything is as swell and neat as can be, and appearances can be deceiving.
In this case, it’s not just zombies that are the problem. There are plenty of other realities, although sometimes subtle, that the characters must escape from which trigger unfortunate events. Also, zombies like Fido might represent many different things, including the simple fact that we can’t truly control everything that happens. That being said, Fido is interesting because it’s not just about chaos and violence. The Robinsons try their very best to lead normal lives in their abnormal situation, and Fido himself ends up symbolizing normalcy and stability by the movie’s end.
Fido also introduces the an interesting idea of the company, ZomCon. Oddly enough, it usually doesn’t come across as a fully evil, cynical corporation that’s exploiting people’s fears. The authoritarianism it represents is partly situational in the film’s canon. Still, at the end of the day, it seems a good citizen who threatens order could be shot by a ZomCon sentry, or at least put in a secure holding cell… for treatment and experimentation? Who knows?
The point is, ZomCon would be hard to get rid of in the world of the Robinsons, as it has become so entrenched in their society that enough people view it as essential for survival. This is very much how many modern societies view governments, corporations, and even technologies. Fido parodies some of this and without making it feel forced. Also, if they got rid of ZomCon, that means people losing jobs, right? You’d have to be crazy to ever say anything bad about them! See how they get ya’?
Fido obviously presents an interesting general premise. What if you could push a button and, through techno-wizardry, flip a cannibalistic dead person’s switch to pacify them? On the flipside, ZomCon has a technology that can shut down to create a renewed zombie crisis, which means it has the humans at their mercy. If they were a real entity, do you think they wouldn’t discuss such things inside ZomCon’s headquarters, even if only in a coded language? Could there even be planned, targeted outages to teach certain people lessons?
Personally, I could imagine a sequel where there’s a secret society fighting ZomCon, but Timmy (or someone Timmy-like) might have conflicting feelings about their efforts. That aside, there are some interesting implications about ZomCon’s dominance, even aside from outright rebellion. Despite having the upper hand for a time, Fido suggests society’s chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It will ultimately be defeated, one way or the other. The main question is how they’ll behave while trying to mend that breaking point.
What are your thoughts on Fido? Let us know in the comments!