We’ve had all manner of zombies grace the screen over the years from traditional voodoo raised ones to shambling flesh eaters to high energy running ones. Some could talk or use tools, others were one track minded, locked in on their next meal. There’s been biker zombies and even zombies in love. But this is, as far as I can tell the first time I’ve seen zombies with a soccer fetish.
The film concerns a first division Paris team rounding out it’s season against a small provincial team There’s some drama in the fact one of their stars came from that town and played for them before jumping to Paris for big money. Now nearing the end of his career he is watching the teams up and coming young star prepare to sign with London for bigger money.
Meanwhile back in the village the local doctor has been experimenting on his son with homebrew steroids to make sure the homecoming is an unhappy one. Unfortunately it has some nasty side effects and he goes on a rampage infecting others and turning them into zombies as well.
The film has an odd structure, like a soccer match it’s done in two halves, each with a different director. The first half was helmed by Benjamin Rocher who previously did the excellent heist/zombie hybrid La Horde and the second by Thierry Poiraud who gave us the absolutely insane gem Atomik Circus. There is a noticeable difference in style but they fit together well enough that the film works as a whole.
It helps that the two halves are also fairly different plot wise. The first half is all the set up to the match, long on dialogue and foreshadowing. In the second all hell breaks loose as the zombie plague reaches the stadium and a small group of survivors are left to fight for their lives. This is much more fast paced and splattery with some great effects including the inevitable scene of a zombie head being kicked across the field. The effects are well done and for the most part seem to avoid CGI.
The scenes of carnage in the stadium are also very effectively shot and lit with fog, smoke, fires and emergency lighting all turning the stadium into a hellscape and adding to the effectiveness of the film.
Apart from being a solid genre film, Goal of the Dead also makes some points about professional sports, money, and winning at all costs. While the references to french soccer leagues went over my head the main points about how money have ruined professional sports are pretty much universal.
My main gripe with Goal of the Dead is the fact it runs an incredible 140 minutes, nearly two and a half hours. This might have worked if it was a two parter for TV but as one movie it is just too long for the plot to maintain itself. It could easily have been trimmed back to a shorter running time without losing anything important.
Despite it’s length, and for some the fact it’s subtitled, Goal of the Dead is a film worth seeing.