The ‘Allegorical Potential’ of My Slapping My Own Forehead

…Mr. Forster’s film represents a careful step backward. It does not expand the tonal range of zombie fantasy, like Ruben Fleischer’s “Zombieland” or Colson Whitehead’s novel “Zone One.” Nor does it exploit the allegorical potential of a world overrun by flesh-craving, half-decayed former people…

via ‘World War Z’ Stars Brad Pitt Battling Zombies – NYTimes.com.

A. O. Scott of The Times made me spit coffee this morning with his belief that there is a vast, untapped reservoir of “allegorical potential” in the zombie genre. To be fair, he took the readers in hand by writing, “in the manner of ‘The Walking Dead.’” But it says here that “Dead” only exploits that potential insofar as it is hours longer than any zombie movie ever made. Even flat drawings gain depth if you scribble on them enough.

I haven’t seen “World War Z” (no spoilers here), and I won’t go into my oft-stated belief that the hazards of a zombie pandemic are vastly overblown. (But they are.) I do wonder at the suggestion by a seemingly serious/sensible person that the zombie movie hasn’t yet been done right — because I don’t think it’s possible. These movies are about exploding heads and splashes of gore, and fear of the unknown. (In the case of “Z,” I think you have to add, because of the zombies’ apparent behavior, fear of insects.) If you tried to build a solid enough foundation for a bona fide allegory to perch on, most of the movie-going public would skip to the next theater to see something with Iron Man in it. (The odds are pretty good he’ll show up somewhere.)

Can American film makers do better? Certainly in my imagination there exists a dynamic, zombie-inhabited world ripe with potential. (Ha, ha; get it?) But I am just a guy at the place. And, I mean, even the Chinese are starting to shun our movies.

I don’t know. Maybe the French can come up with something, a la “Amour,” though even then I’ll just be looking at the screen, saying to myself, “What an amazing apartment!”

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