The Civil Dead (2023) – Film Review

The Civil Dead - Film Review

Director: Clay Tatum
Cast: Clay Tatum, Whitmer Thomas, DeMorge Brown
Certificate: PG

By Roger Crow

Clay, a solitary photographer leading a routine life with his amazingly supportive artist wife Whitney in Los Angeles, receives advice to break his creative rut. During Whitney’s absence, he encounters his long-lost friend Whit, leading to a night of revelations that strains his marriage and challenges his sanity.

Directed by and starring Clay Tatum and co-written by and co-starring Whitmer Thomas, this indie comedy takes a while to settle down with its whiny protagonist testing the patience. The fact he’s so unlikeable with the self-crafted haircut from hell and plan to con renters out of cash means it’s hard to warm to his story. But then his old friend shows up out of the blue and, TWIST, he’s a ghost. So before you know it, Clay is cheating at cards and getting beaten up by the guy he conned.

The Civil Dead - Film Review

“Leave you with a wry smile”

Less whiny dialogue and more action would have helped, but The Civil Dead is watchable enough even if the lead character is so annoying.

It’s easy enough to see this remade with bigger stars and set pieces, so the concept is not without merit. If you want to see a superior version of the same idea, then Ricky Gervais vehicle Ghost Town might be more your cuppa.

Cinematography and editing is perfectly fine, and the soundtrack is pretty good. It’s the sort of film that will sneak onto a streaming channel as filler, possibly leave you with a wry smile and sense of melancholy before searching for the next binge-watch.

The main thing is, like its key character, it has spirit, and that goes a long way. Don’t expect too much and The Civil Dead works (small) wonders.

The Civil Dead is in select cinemas and on demand 19 January 2024

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