Tuesday, 2 November 2010



Because this is the unthinkable. More unthinkable than the Pope biting a dog's leg off, The Clash issuing a CD of Gilbert and Sullivan covers or the Duke Of Edinburgh taking up cage fighting. It's like another dimension in which the bins are emptied twice a day and fitted kitchen salesmen actually do bugger off when you tell them to. This, believe it or not (and it's entirely understandable if you don't), is a moderately enjoyable film with Danny Dyer in a leading role.

Don't misinterpret this. The man is still as charmless and tiresome as ever, even though the script doesn't provide any opportunities for the drinking, leering, leching and thumping we've grown to associate with him, or the laddish yobbishness and borderline misogyny (see Doghouse for the full-on Danny Dyer Plus Experience). But the movie has enough stuff to counteract the Dyer-shaped black hole: it's a British "zombie" offering that obviously wants, and is trying hard, to be another 28 Days Later.

Devil's Playground also has shades of Resident Evil, as a zombie/mutant contagion from a failed pharmaceutical trial starts turning Londoners into zombie mutant things, everyone they bite becomes another zombie mutant thing. They're the fast kind of zombies (personally I prefer the slow, remorseless and implacable Romero variety) and can also, for no adequately explored reason, do free running. Wrongly disgraced ex-cop Danny Dyer and his mate take shelter in a remote garage; joining him are his girlfriend (the sole survivor of the initial drug trial) and the pharmaceutical corporation's security chief (Craig Fairbrass). With a few other survivors (one of whom looks distractingly like Gok Wan) they bicker, argue and scheme to earn a place on a small helicopter to safety as the zombie hordes grow stronger.

It's obviously not great, but it's generally good gleeful fun with plenty of blood and gore, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it, even though it's too shouty and sweary. Coming after such homegrown genre offerings as Dead Cert and Basement it was a pleasant surprise and far better than it has any right to be, despite the dead hand of Dyer at its centre; Sean Pertwee has a quick cameo and the ever-reliable Colin Salmon shows up as the evil pharma CEO. Worth a look for an undemanding evening's entertainment with the living dead (even though, as with 28 Days Later and others, they're not strictly zombies).


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