Ahhh, the flesh eating zombie movie. The possibilities are endless and I won't rest until I see every last scenario. I've seen zombies go nuts in Manhattan, London, Tokyo, on an island, in the forest, on a plane and underwater. I've seen zombie babies, Nazis, nuns, birds and grandmas.
I've noticed that very few films are bold or creative enough to predict the future in the zombie timeline. About 90% begin with the outbreak and then focus on a small group of people running for their lives. In Dawn of the Dead (1978), the zombies are in the process of taking over the planet. In Day of the Dead (1982) the zombies have conquered but the movie restricts itself to a lone military base. Land of the Dead imagined a protected city ruled by thugs.
In that sense Fido is refreshing and unique. In this world the war is over. We have won and the zombies are now under our control thanks to remote control collars. They are reduced to mere status symbols and can mow your lawn, water your plants or, if you're like the sicko neighbor, satisfy your lust. In a way it takes the Romero zombie and returns it to the mindless slave depicted in virtually every zombie movie from 1933-1967. I fully appreciate the ambition on display here.
The other interesting choice is the 1950's setting which lovingly pays homage to the drive in B-movie culture of the past. I'm guessing that it was also intended as a satire of good ol'fashion family values but it never takes a stand and this is where the movie and I butt heads. The relationship between little Timmy and his pet zombie is explored (and in one of the more unbearably sappy scenes they toss the old baseball around), but it passes on the opportunity to make a statement about class, slavery, ethical treatment of animals etc. Instead it plods along with a story about an evil corporation and fleshes it out with a mind numbing Jimmy subplot involving bullies and another with the husband becoming jealous of the time his wife spends with Fido. The Disney-like music quickly becomes overwhelming and obnoxious.
But my biggest beef of all (and the reason for my ** rating) is the lack of gore that I damn well expect when watching any flesh eating zombie film. One of the unwritten rules is that you are to dedicate a certain amount of attention to over the top splatter. You know - innards being savagely feasted upon, blood spilling liberally and all around mayhem. Other "zomedies" such as Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland understand this and qualify as both horror and comedy (and in SoTD's case also romance and satire). Fido made no attempt to terrify me or churn my stomach and I deem that unacceptable. You could argue that rules were made to be broken and that it's merely a matter of personal preference but I'd argue (right back in your face, belligerently) that flesh eating zombie movies have a deep, rich history (spanning over 40 years now) that should be respected.