Set against the bleak backdrop of a family home, Miss Zombie contributes a great deal to the popular zombie genre. The family home is well looked after but if you look a little closely, the floor is peeling and the patio is overgrown and dirty. The cracks are starting to show on the outside, reflecting what is to come for one family when they decide to employ a zombie. A young girl arrives at the family home in a wooden crate. The head of the house seems confident that, as long as she isn’t fed meat, she could be used for chores and labour. What follows is the dark repetition of several days. Wherever she goes, the young zombie isn’t wanted. Posing a threat to the neighbourhood, she remains an outcast; suffering terribly at their many violent hands. Sitting alone in her quarters, we watch the family’s slave gnawing on old fruit, suffering alone. Hardly a word is spoken. The film’s silence is complimented by a rich, visceral score that is made up of haunting cellos and the organic sounds of the house in which the story takes place. The sound is exquisite. Miss Zombie is alive with intense noises that you can feel against your skin. As the stranger’s presence starts to tear the household apart, chaos descends. Miss Zombie challenges you to stay with its monotonous opening half which builds tension, assisted by the gruesome sounds that burst in and out of scenes.
Yes, our zombie is the victim but it’s not that simple a twist on the genre. This is a world in which zombies already exist but nobody seems to really understand them. The audience I watched the film with seemed primarily baffled by Miss Zombie and its original contributions. There were laughs at every gory reveal; something I didn’t think the film intended. Miss Zombie is doing more than just entertaining with violence and bloodiness. It has a message, commenting on the nuclear family and our social wariness of the unfamiliar. This majestic, surreal zombie portrayal is not what many will expect it to be. Its stunning camera work – zooms and pans that speak on behalf of the silent characters – makes it a dream-like experience. Miss Zombie, in all its beauty and horror, makes me yearn for the days before zombies just meant big laughs. After all, Night of the Living Dead was a very serious and poetic film and, now, so is Miss Zombie. It’s time that we prepared for the unusual and embraced the more intelligent and challenging horrors that lurk in this genre and Miss Zombie is a profound and elegant starting point.
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