2012 Lionsgate HomeEnt DVD R(2) - watched on Netflix
Contains mild spoilers.
When my ever supportive eight year old told me she'd found a zombie film on Netflix and could we watch it together I was at first a little alarmed. I needn't have been though, as the film in question turned out to be the totally family friendly animated Daddy I'm a Zombie or in it's original Spanish Papá, soy una zombi. Never one to disappoint my family I could hardly say no so we dived in.
Daddy, I'm a zombie, is a low budget animated Burton want-to-be, fantastical adventure story about a little girl dealing with the trials and tribulations that come along with adolescence. 13 year old Dixie (voiced in English by Kimberely Wharton) lives above a mortuary with her divorced Dad. She wears black clothes, listens to death metal, has no friends and a crush on an unobtainable boy, and is full of teenage angst and depression that of course no one else could possibly understand. This film might have the word zombie in the title but let's be clear, this is a teen-flick and wasn't made for 39 year old grey haired gits like yours truly.
Dixie reluctantly agrees to go to the local fair with her Dad and is tricked by some mean girls from school to go into the ghost/fun house where she sees her supposed best friend making out (I believe is the term) said boy of her dreams. Running away distraught and in tears she screams out that she wishes she was dead and it unfortunately comes true.
She wakes up in a cemetery face to face with Isis (Ratana) an Egyptian mummy who explains she's in the land of the dead and she, like her is now a zombie. This land of the dead is a place outside space and time where souls of the departed rise up as sentient undead if they left unfinished business when they died. There is however, conveniently, a way out. Isis explains that there's a magical item known as the Azoth that can open a portal back to the land of the living and in the forest there lives a crazy old man called Vitriol who knows just how to do it.
Luckily for Dixie, she is the chosen one and has the Azoth on her. Unluckily, outside the protection of the cemetery the land is ruled by evil zombie queen Nebulosa who has captured all the other zombies, sucked out their souls and is preparing them as an undead army to invade the living world once she gets her grubby little mitts on the Azoth. So begins a journey of friendship to save the world, or something like that with scrapes, adventure, fallings out and redemption.
Like I said, this is fantasy and adventure and it doesn't matter that mummies are zombies or that that Nebulosa's goon hit men are minotaurs. It's a children's story and takes full advantage of the fact that things don't have to strictly speaking make much sense. It's free and bit silly but all in a good way. Isis tells Dixie that zombie food is bugs and worms and Dixie moans she's a decaying corpse and looks terrible but there's no real rotting flesh, blood or gore. It's all been tamed and all what we expect in a children's family cartoon, and it's ok. Still, it's not all unicorns and roses and there are moments where it lets itself get a little dark and tense, and some of the themes and ideas are definitely aimed at the slightly older children. It also manages a few winks and nods to it's horror heritage and I swear I saw the silhouette of a brain at one point which is nice.
Now I'm not an animation expert but even I can tell it's no Disney or Pixar, more that computery cheap animation you see on Saturday morning television. All the colours and lines are sharp and saturated and panning is always done from a fixed point. It's all a bit cheap and garish but it's adequate for what it is and my kids didn't seem to mind. The English voices are great and story for all over the place fantastical nature is actually pretty cohesive and it paces along quite nicely. I'm not sure why it's called what it is though, as at no point is Dixie a zombie in the real world nor does she ever come out, so to speak to her dad.
Daddy, I'm a Zombie is a coming of age flick taking advantage of the current mainstream obsession with all things Z. It's a well intentioned morality tale about learning to be more positive, trusting and nice to others and as said while clearly not targeted in my direction I still enjoyed it for what it was. It's bright, quirky, a little deviant (always a good thing in my book) with some imaginative ideas and a reasonably strong story. I'm really not sure how to score this one though. I'd probably give it something like a 5 and when asked my daughter gave it a 10, so we'll meet somewhere in the middle, 7/10.