Office of the Dead


"... a well-made, smooth-paced, entertaining independent movie."

- Mighty Peking Man

Office of the Dead (2009)

Director: Matthew Chung

Producer: Karen Shih, Teddy Chen Culver

Writer: Matthew Chung

Cast: Teddy Chen, Shawn Parikh, Christina July Kim, Robbie Daymond, Don Jeanes, Amelia Meyers, Jani Blom, David Goldman, Natasha Nov, Lynnette Li, Wayne Robbins

Running Time: 72 min.

Plot: See review below.


MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: A company called Life Corp is working on a new, groundbreaking technology developed to “make people happy.” In charge of the programming is Ben (Teddy Chen) and Raj (Shawn Parikh), a couple of software engineers who have to deal with the typical office bullshit: their bad-tempered boss, phony marketing employees and Liz (Christina July Kim), their micro-managing project manager.

Trouble starts when upper management hires consultants to help straighten up the project in a more efficient manner. After a series of unfortunate events, most likely caused by the consultants, the software transforms most of Life Corp’s employees into zombies. What makes matter worse is Life Corp’s high tech security system takes effect, which leaves Ben, Ray and Liz trapped in a building full of flesh-biting zombies.

Like millions of others, I’m a huge fan of Mike Judge’s Office Space (1999). I’m even a bigger fan of the zombie film genre (particularly, George Romero’s zombie trilogy). And then we have the comedy/spoof takes, like Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004) and more recently, Zombieland (2009).

It’s safe to say that Office of the Dead is, more or less, a combination of all of the above. Shot in 18 days, with an extremely low budget, it obviously doesn't carry the production values of a typical Hollywood film; but mark my word, it’s a well-made, smooth-paced, entertaining independent movie.

Office of the Dead is comedy first, horror movie second. There’s a lot one could relate to, especially if you’ve worked in a similar office environment. The mini-flashbacks were a nice touch, as was the subplot between Ben and his ex-girlfriend, Liz, who one-ups him by becoming his boss. There was definitely a lot of thought put into developing the characters, as it’s one of the film’s strongest points. The entire cast does an outstanding job (and when I say entire cast, I mean everyone) and all come across very natural.

For the most part, this is a very light-hearted film; so those looking for rated-R blood and gore might be disappointed. There might have been only a few frames of blood, but even then, it was cartoon-ish, as it appeared violet in color. However, like most good zombie flicks, what makes them appealing is not the zombies or the explicit visuals, it’s actually how the main characters interact and deal with the trouble surrounding them.

Considering it’s Matthew Chung’s first feature, who had no prior filmmaking experience, Office of the Dead is something to appreciate. Chung, an actual software engineer himself, decided to start writing screenplays as an outlet to dealing with the animosities of the office-cubicle work area. Hence, Office of the Dead was born.

Dialogue from the actual movie sums it up best:

“I have to say the team has done an amazing job, it’s always a treat when you have talented individuals working, but when those individuals work together as a team, the result is truly amazing.”