Directors: Thierry Poiraud, Benjamin Rocher
MPAA Rating: NR
Over the last few years, the zombie genre has kept a foothold on the horror market, with filmmakers constantly trying to add a new twist on the concept of the undead plague. With Goal of the Dead, we see zombies hit the pitch with a soccer-themed tale of survival after a stadium full of fans gets infected with a deadly virus, turning everyone into ravenous ghouls.
Like a soccer match, the film is broken into two halves. The first half is directed by Benjamin Rocher, who previously made the fantastic French zombie flick The Horde. This, the stronger of the two, introduces our cast of survivors and sets the stage for the chaos that is about to take place. The story revolves around the Olympique de Paris soccer team, which is heading to an away game at Caplongue, the former home of veteran player Sam Lorit (Alban Lenoir).
The residents of Caplongue resent Sam for transferring to Paris, one of them so much so that he injects his son, a player, with an experimental steroid he produced in order to help them win the match. Unfortunately, this turns the man into a zombie who quickly begins infecting others by vomiting white liquid into their faces.
During the match Sam receives a red card, effectively ejecting him from the game, which turns out to be a good thing, considering that, once the infection makes its way to the stadium, all hell breaks loose. Although most everyone at the match immediately perishes, a group of people ends up accompanying Sam in his quest for survival. Among them is Idriss, the young star player for Paris; Sam’s father; a young girl named Cléo; and a feisty journalist named Solène.
The first half of the movie feels more polished and contains far more satire than the second, with Rocher drawing a lot from the Romero school of zombie filmmaking. Even though I’m not familiar with the French league of soccer, I could still appreciate what the film was trying to say regarding the treatment of its players and the commercialization of the game.
Thierry Poiraud directed the second half, which begins with its own set of opening credits and a slightly different visual style. Although it still feels like a cohesive story, the second act is missing a lot of the humor and charm from the first. It’s still fun and it mostly works, but by the time we reach the end, I was feeling fatigued. The film is two hours long and could have easily been trimmed down to a more bearable length.
At the end of the day, Goal of the Dead succeeds at being a solid zombie film, but other than the handful of soccer sequences and themes, it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre. It’s a fun, but ultimately forgettable, undead romp that will surely please fans of both horror movies and The Beautiful Game.