Dead Set (2008)

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Released 18-Nov-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind the Scenes
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Writer Charlie Brooker, Director Yann Demarge
Featurette-Making Of-Special Effects
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 141:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Yann Demange
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Dan Jones


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Dead Set is a 5 part British television series set in and around the Big Brother UK house. It aired in the UK in a variety of formats and was recently screened here on SBS. On DVD Dead Set consists of 5 unnamed episodes with lengths as follows:

The idea for the show is delicious beyond words.

It is eviction night on a future series of Big Brother. The nervous housemates wait for news as to the eventual evictee. Host Davina McCall (playing herself) is busy getting made-up for the live show. The crowd outside are getting restless with anticipation. Meanwhile in the control booth Patrick (Andy Nyman) has a million and one things to do to get the show happening, starting with his coffee. So where is production runner Kelly (Jaime Winstone)? She is somewhere between breaking up with her boyfriend Riq (Riz Ahmed) and making out with her new flame, a guy from the exciting world of television.

So tensions are running high everywhere around the BB House. Outside the house, in the real world, things are looking serious too. News reports of riots across Britain are intensifying leading to the thought, heaven forbid, that the show might be interrupted by news flashes! As the eviction show begins, and the unlucky Pippa is voted off, the fun begins. It turns out that Britain is in the grip of a zombie plague and murder and mayhem descend upon the eviction show. In the confusion Pippa and Patrick are trapped together with Zombie Davina pounding on their door, Kelly is isolated in one of the production rooms and the unsuspecting housemates are trapped/cocooned in the house.

The idea for Dead Set is so perfect, so funny, that it should come with an immediate caveat. Although the show has some funny moments, mostly grimly funny, it is first and foremost a survival horror show. More 28 Days/Weeks Later than Shaun of the Dead this is a fully fledged gore-fest with exploding heads, severed limbs and enough entrails and goo to satisfy genre fans. These are modern zombies, not the shuffling type, and run lickety-split towards their target. Tension is maintained well throughout and the shaky-cam zombie attack is a good way to wring out the last dollars from a limited budget. Director Yann Demarge mentions in the extras that they had to make numerous compromises to bring it in on a tiny budget but the film doesn't suffer. He and his cinematographer work in the confined corridors of the studio with the sounds of munching zombies around every corner.

The cast is composed of British TV actors. Winstone (daughter of Ray) is great as the tough Kelly, moving from fetching coffees to de-braining zombies without a beat. Comedy actor Kevin Eldon (Big Train, Hyperdrive) plays the pompous intellectual housemate and The Bill's Beth Cordingly plays the skanky, dumb-as-a-box-of-hammers Veronica. Andy Nyman (Death At a Funeral) gets all the best lines as the vile, sarcastic Patrick. He faces his own form of hell when trapped in a room with the gormless Pippa (Kathleen McDermott) as his only company. Meanwhile Riq, miles from the House, forms a plan to return to save his girl.

Will Kelly and Riq be re-united? Who will survive? How will they survive? Most importantly who will die gruesome deaths?

Dead Set is a very effective piece of horror. Its only real flaw is that it suffers from being either too long or too short. It works best as horror when the characters are out of the house and in the open, hostile world rather than when they are endlessly arguing in the house. Still their inertness in the face of the apocalypse is the very point and it takes a practical evil b****** like Patrick to come up with an idea for salvation.

Viewers in the UK would have got a serious buzz out of seeing the host and a collection of former Big Brother contestants being eaten and eating others. That aspect may be lost a little here but the nerve-wracking tension remains.

We are left with a great idea, well-executed. The joke, however, is on us. The zombies, it turns out, are not the empty-headed Big Brother housemates but the mass populace who continue to watch and make heroes out of mediocrity. A show with a big sting in the tail!

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Transfer Quality

Video

   Dead Set was shot on a variety of Digital Video cameras. It was shot at a native wide-screen ratio and has been transferred to DVD at a 1.78:1 ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

The director explains in the extras that he wanted the scenes in the house as observed by others and before the attack begins to have a different look.

Whichever the source Dead Set is, in many respects, a pretty good looking piece of television. Don't look for bold colours - even the blood is dark! The film has a stark desaturated look.

The picture quality is sharp and there are no marks, scratches or other physical artefacts to be seen.

The only problem relates to compression artefacts. This is a 2 and a half hour TV show with an hour of extras on one DVD 9. There is some digital noise about which suits the film. Compression remains the biggest, perhaps only, problem which is intensified due to the frequency with which the film delves into darkness.

There are no subtitles. The layer change comes in at the 7.16 point of Episode 4.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Dead Set carries an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack running at 224 Kb/s.

The track is fine for this series although some ambient sounds from the side and rear may have amped up the suspense even further. For that reason I have marked the show down half a point.

The dialogue can be heard clearly and there are no technical problems with the sound. The actors are in audio sync.

The score is by Dan Jones. It is subtle and pounding by turns as required.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Dead Set has a host of extras most of which are fairly brief:
  1. Davina McKill (6.55)
  2. SFX : Youv'e Got to Get them in the Head (2.50)
  3. 8 out of 10 Cats (.54)
  4. Pippa's Eviction (1.44)
  5. Live Feed 1 (1.25)
  6. Interview with Yann Demarge (4.28)
  7. On Set with Dead Set (6.15)
  8. Interview with Charlie Brooker (6.03)
  9. SFX : Head Shots (2.13)
  10. House of the Dead (5.07)
  11. SFX : Davina's Head (.58)
  12. Waste Not, Want Not (1.02)
  13. I Am Patrick (3.53)
  14. Army of the Dead (3.35)
  15. SFX : Patrick Gives Head (4.11)
  16. Fuzzy Little Balls (3.53)
  17. Pippa Meets Her Maker (.29)
  18. Live Feed 2 (1.26)

The extras fall into a few categories : extended or deleted scenes, interviews with cast/crew and sessions with the very excited special effects crew. The latter explain how they created prosthetic heads and body parts and then splattered them everywhere. This was clearly a fun project and these scenes are a fun watch.

. The interview extras include Davina McCall who explains the joy she had combining her real life role and her zombie counterpart, director Yann Demarge, not a fan of zombie movies, who fills us in on the challenges of making a low budget horror series, creator Charlie Brooker who swears as much as Patrick and has a disturbed sense of humour and the cast who look a little unsure as to how it will all turn out.

There are a couple of deleted and extended scenes. The rant from Patrick to the housemates is frightening and funny but the extended length raises the question of why no-one tried to off him. He does have a brief scene which helps explain his motives further. Finally, there is the fun moment where Pippa "meets her maker" which was cut as it lessens the impact of her later appearance.

All-in-all a great set of extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This is an All Region DVD.

Summary

    Dead Set is a surprisingly effective piece of horror. Surprising because the central idea is so funny that it is hard to imagine it as anything but a spoof. That notion disappears as soon as the first zombie head gets stoved in. The picture quality, compression aside, is good and the extras are a hoot. Really worth a watch for genre fans and others looking for a bit of fun and gore.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R4 vs. R1 - REPLY POSTED
Didn't love it so much - Bran (my bio, or something very like it) REPLY POSTED