HAROLD'S GOING STIFF
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
This mockumentary style feature follows the story of a lonely old man named Harold Gimble. He's the first dude to get a disease that's going to turn him into a zombie. He begins to fall for the nurse who's going to take care of him. He goes all 'awakenings' on an experimental cure which turns out to make things worse than before and Harold's in bigger trouble than he thought.
Is it good movie?
This little indie film is different than you might think. It's no Shaun of the Dead and it's no Zombieland but it's really rather good. It's sort of a metaphor for growing old and being forgotten, with sincere performances and making the best of a low budget.
One can easily sympathize with the sufferers of this male-only disease, as the slow-acting poison eventually seizes all the limbs and turns the host aggressive. Stan Rowe plays Harold, a troubled and arthritic but sweet widower who is afflicted with the first known case of the disease. He's trying hard to overcome it and live his life, but it's becoming difficult. On top of that, members of the community are turning on these poor folks and taking things into their own hands.
The bond between Harold and his nurse, Penny (Sarah Spencer) is the main meat of the film and their relationship works well. They're both lonely souls who are looking for love and while their relationship can be bizarre, it is sweetly natured. This film is certainly a character driven one that may be somewhat light hearted at time, but it equally morose and depressing to say the least. Don't get me wrong, there's a fair amount of dark humor but don't go in thinking this is a comedy. I'd have to say that at times, it was hard to tell what kind of movie this was trying to be, because of the several tonal shifts within.
If I had a real criticism, it's that Harold never really seems to be as 'zombie' like as the rest of the folks afflicted with the disease. We don't really know why it hits him so slowly. And as I mentioned before, the movie is a bit uneven. Sometimes it feels romantic, sometimes it feels dramatic, other times it's somewhat horrific.
Don't let the uneven tone stop you from watching this film. It's well written, just not completely uniform. It features some very good performances and memorable moments, but don't expect to be rolling in the aisles in laughter or recoiling in horror.
Video / Audio
There's no doubt that Harold's Going Stiff is original enough to warrant your attention. It's got well written characters and a compelling allegorical reference to the horror of growing old and essentially being forgotten.