REVIEW: GOAL OF THE DEAD / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: THIERRY POIRAUD, BENJAMIN ROCHER / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: ALBAN LENOIR, CHARLIE BRUNEAU, AHMED SYLLA, TIPHAINE DAVIOT / RELEASE DATE: TBC
We’ll be honest, the first mention of Goal of the Dead had us rolling our eyes and expecting the worst. As it happens, this turned out to be a charming movie that regularly hits the correct beats throughout. Yes, the basic premise is football and zombies, but don’t let the bonkers notion put you off.
Goal of the Dead centres on glamorous, glitzy Olympique de Paris travelling to play lowly Caplongue in a cup match. It turns out that, years prior, Caplongue’s star player, Sam Lorit (Lenoir), had left his home town club for the bright lights of Paris. Once idolised, Lorit is villainised upon this homecoming. So much so, local player Jeannot (Sebastien Vandenberghe) is injected with a mysterious potion that sends him into a rage. The hulking Jeannot goes on a rampaging mission to make sure that former friend Lorit doesn’t leave the stadium alive. It just so happens that Jeannot’s rage-fuelled condition is contagious, passed on whenever the infected vomit on somebody. As the virus spreads, the small town of Caplongue falls into darkness.
Despite its ludicrous-sounding plot, Goal of the Dead is a massively enjoyable movie. As well as ageing star Lorit, we get introduced to young, arrogant teammate Idriss (Sylla). Then there’s a TV reporter (Bruneau) tasked with following the Paris team for this game, money-grabbing agents, fickle fans, well-meaning football managers, and even some football hooligans thrown in for good measure. Truly a movie of two halves, with each being directed by a separate director, the film works wonders as a football movie, looking at some of the things that are wrong with the modern game whilst the veteran Lorit is desperate to show that he still has value in a profession now driven by ego and money. Then there’s the zombie element, which has a feel of 28 Days Later meets Resident Evil 2’s Raccoon City, with a dash of Shaun of the Dead’s humour thrown in for good measure.
As a football film, the movie has some standout moments for that particular subgenre. As a zombie movie, it does more than enough to get by. At the core of Goal of the Dead, though, are some well-developed, interesting characters exuding humour, sincerity and appeal. The film is also stylish, with a slightly discoloured, apocalyptic vibe. All of the actors do a splendid job in their particular roles and Lenoir proves to be a very likeable lead, even if his character has some less-than-admirable traits.
Whilst the football elements are likely to be more interesting than the horror elements, Goal of the Dead balances balls and beasts as it delivers a perfectly executed finish into the top corner of the comedy-horror genre. Back of the net, son!