As boys continue to make zombie movies, the female characters will continue to be boy fantasies. Danai Gurira’s character in Walking Dead, Michonne, consists mostly of tight pants and a samurai sword. Even Laurie Holden as Andrea confesses that she loves the thrill of the kill, which we already knew from how quickly she plunges knives into zombies. The most recent [Rec] movie exists only to show a woman in a wedding dress taking a chainsaw to a zombie, even if it’s a bit more than the actress can handle. In the Canadian thriller The Day, Ashley Bell (one of two reasons to see The Last Exorcism*) plays one of the most bad-ass zombie killing chicks you’ll see in any zombie movie with or without zombies, and she makes it worthwhile sticking around for the final scene. Michonne wishes she was that bad-ass.
But what kind of bad-ass zombie killing chick do you get when a woman makes an arthouse zombie movie? The answer to that is April in the very Scottish horror movie The Dead Outside, directed by Kerry Anne Mullaney. April is a closed book behind her needlepoint, her porcelain figures, her hunting rifles, and her steely blue eyes. This last character trait is the exclusive and invaluable contribution of Sandra Louise Douglas, an actress with only this film to her credits. She plays April with a raw unfocused anger and she does a remarkable job revealing something else as the movie progresses.
You have to watch The Dead Outside closely and you have to listen carefully. If the quiet sound mix isn’t bad enough, the Scottish accents can make the dialogue impenetrable to American ears. The cinematography is deliberately dreary. A nighttime scene is, sure enough, shot at night. And it’s slow because it’s about the relationship between the characters rather than April’s prowess with firearms. But if you want a new take on chicks killing zombies, The Dead Outside reveals that a tight outfit can’t hold a candle to the fire in Douglas’ fierce bright eyes.
The Dead Outside is available on Netflix instant watch.