An American mercenary, the sole survivor of a plane crash, has to run the gauntlet across Africa, battling with the living dead. Joining forces with a local military man, desperately searching for his son amongst the chaos, they fight together to survive.
Christine Caprilozzi caught up with actor, Rob Freeman, to talk about The Dead.
Horror News Network: First off, I loved the film. "The Dead" is not only total blood and gore, but also has a lot of human depth and drama to it, especially for being in the "horror genre." What drew you to the project?
Rob Freeman: I think you just summed it up. The adventure drew me to it. I had done one horror film before which was more slapstick approach, "Pumpkinhead 4." This one we were going to Africa, there was a social commentary about it, there was a guerilla style of filming. Everyone was going to have to pitch in and be hands on. I couldn't go and be an actor, I was going to lug around equipment. There wasn't going to be any fancy trailers, or catering. As an actor, it was very attractive from that perspective. It was "real" acting.
Horror News Network: How did you prepare for the role? There were a lot of physical elements in the film whether you were climbing a tree, climbing the mountains.
Rob Freeman: I've been an athlete all my life. I keep within generally about 80% of a pro athlete's physical fitness. So I was already ready to go and do it before I knew I was going to do it. I kept training while I was there.
Horror News Network: How was the filing in Africa? Was it as beautiful as one would expect?
Rob Freeman: No (Laughs) Africa is a wonderful place with a lot of wonderful people. We ran into some difficult situations because we're driving foreign license plates. Form their perspective, we had a fancy vehicle even though the vehicle was bought here for $500, white Range Rover. We had cameras, making a film. We looked like we had money, and people there don't have money. We became targets. We would run into people with guns, and knives, mobs. It got to be pretty harrowing at times. The truth was we didn't have any money and were running out of food and water.
Horror News Network: So, that atmosphere probably enhanced the tone of the film, and made you really feel like you were fighting for survival.
Rob Freeman: No doubt about that.
Horror News Network: In the film, there is definitely a sense of dread, suspense and an abundance of zombies. Some of the scenes, especially the on the dark airport hanger, are pretty intense. What was it like shooting some of the scenes? Did you have a favorite one?
Rob Freeman: That's a great question. I'm thinking about that hanger scene. The part where I come in with the gun and I sweep through the empty hanger, I remember that scene because we had to shoot very quickly. The army Captain wanted money for us to be allowed to shoot there and was threatening to take our equipment, etc. I remember that being a very energetic moment. Then that led up to the part where I come face to face with the zombie. There were a lot of great scenes to shoot. They were all quite fun.
Horror News Network: It sounds like the atmosphere, with it being a bit hostile, added a bit of energy to the filming.
Rob Freeman: Well, the people over there, and I'm speaking in a very general sense, are generally very poor. What ended up happening was that we were doing what we had to, to survive. The story in the film is about surviving. What ended up happening was in real-time, was that we actually had to survive. In reality we had to survive to shoot the film, and inside the film, my character was trying to survive. It wasn't like we shot and then went back to our houses and had a drink for the night. We never, for three months, escaped the film. We had to live it. What you see on the screen really isn't a lot of acting.
Horror News Network: It isn't a typical independent zombie film, there is a bit more depth to it. Your performance brought a lot of emotion, whether it was your facial expressions or physicality. Your character had a lot of ups and downs emotionally. There would be hope, and then it would be pulled away constantly.
Rob Freeman: That was happening in real life. There was really some incredible situations. One night we were driving back from shooting. We saw people walking on the side of the road and the lights from our truck would light them up. There are no street lights there. There's only one paved road that goes through the whole country. It's just bushes and jungle. So, the only lights were the lights from our $500 Range Rover. We would go by people, and they look like zombies walking on the side of the road, it was really bizarre.
Horror News Network: So, shooting was pretty much parallel to what was going on in the film?
Rob Freeman: I wouldn't say there was a lot of separation between film and reality.
Horror News Network: What was your first impression when you saw the final cut of the film?
Rob Freeman: I was at Lester Square in London. There was about a thousand people there. I got lost in the film. I forgot it was me up there. I got lost in the adventure again. I remember sitting there and I started to cry at one point. I couldn't figure out if I was crying remembering what I went through, or I was feeling for the guy on the screen. I still don't know which one it was.
Horror News Network: What was it like working with Prince David Oseia (who was great as Sgt. Daniel)? How did that chemistry develop?
Rob Freeman: We had a great time together. When you watch the film, there's a scene where we're going up to the scene in the hanger. There's a line on the runway, like a line on the highway. I'm on one side of that line, and he's on the other side. It's incredibly symbolic. As we walk together they cut just as I step across that line. So, that really described our relationship also. We got along really quite well.
Horror News Network: Thanks for your time, Rob. Comment on this interview here.