During the Napoleonic War a Belgian woman and her husband are abruptly interrupted by the hijack of their carriage by a bruised and dirtied English soldier, John Cross. After an altercation, Cross narrates to Celine the real atrocities that are being committed by the French, which could implicate seriously on the entire world’s population.
This film really depends on whether or not you find something special in a slow-burning zombie movie; if you’re looking for a blast of a time with undead gore galore, then you won’t find the time or effort for Fallen Soldiers. However, if you prefer dialogue driven stories with a more focused and subtle use of blood then you’ll be gripped by this extremely small budgeted indie.
The premise of Fallen Soldiers is instantly a likable one, even if it is a slightly overused concept. The feature is described as “The Walking Dead meets Sharpe” and although it lack a little on TWD side, it definitely lives up to the Sharpe part. It’s clear from the outset that director Bill Thomas tried to take the often-overrated zombie genre and conceal it in a different era, whilst trying to keep the tone serious. There’s a plethora of different elements in this film, exhibiting the passion for a deeper zombie story, however, there are parts where the film is exceptionally tedious. Although I was gripped by a majority of the dialogue, it often seemed like it had been purposefully prolonged.
Narrative wise, it has an interesting way of telling the story, with the audience learning what happened to John Cross and his men as he recalls his story to Celine. These flashback segments descriptively take us through to the end, although a few of them – including when Seline has a couple of random ones – are very disjointed and confusing to follow. What completely makes up for that is the terrific acting from Matthew Neal (Cross); I may not have liked his character but he pulled off keeping an air of ambiguity about the characters intentions.
For a gore hound, the zombie genre is perfect for conjuring up an abundance of guts and fleshy matter, but Fallen Soldiers decided to decline taking advantage of this. Even though I love the red stuff, I can also appreciate avoiding something very cliché and trying to go in the opposite direction. If your stomach is feeling a bit queasy then it’s a welcomed change to see some lesser graphic munchings. With that said, the actual look of the rotting cannibals was well-done, unlike many films where they look terrible, and not in the way you want.
Fallen Soldiers may not be a game changer in the horror film genre, but it’s the perfect example of a strong love for the genre and also the willingness to take a risk by trying to create something unique to low budget filmmaking. There’s always a reason to celebrate films that contribute to the brilliant and often over shadowed independent films, so if you’re looking for something that even Sean Bean would be proud of then let this little film talk your brains out!
Words: Zoe Rose Smith (@ZoeRoseSmitz)