• Director: Clay Tatum
  • Writer: Clay Tatum, Whitmer Thomas
  • Stars: Clay Tatum, Whitmer Thomas, Whitney Weir, Budd Diaz, Robert Longstreet


The Civil Dead is a very quirky, kind of horror, supernatural film that ruminates on loneliness, communication and friendship . Playing at North Bend Film Festival, the film is about Clay (Tatum) who clearly doesn’t like interacting with humans at the best of times, he barely talks to his wife and he seems to have distain for just about everyone else. With his wife out of town for a few days, Clay runs into his old buddy Whit (Thomas), whilst he is out taking photos. Whit convinces him to have a few drinks back at Clay’s house and Clay begrudgingly accepts. After a night of drinking, Whit ends up there the morning after and despite giving away clues (which Clay is oblivious too), Whit then juts outright tells Clay that he is a ghost, which Clay eventually and hilariously understands. Whit wants to hang out with Clay because he is very lonely and Clay is the one person that can see him, whilst Clay is not thrilled with the idea of trying to tell his wife that an old friend is now haunting him.

The Civil Dead is very funny with excellent low key dialogue and it probably leans more toward mumblecore comedy than it does horror but it still manages some weird and uncanny moments. Tatum and Thomas’ writing is really sharp and tailor made for them both with the comedy, unconventional as it may be, the really awkward interactions and the little asides about life, loneliness and friendship (or lack thereof).

Tatum and Thomas have a really good chemistry on screen, the pair seems to have had a lot of fun doing the film, even if the film isn’t always about fun (there is a fantastic cameo from Robert Longstreet as well). The climax of the film however is a huge knife in the heart. After lulling you to sit in the films own awkwardness, it then brutally pulls the rug from under you. For a film that mostly concerns itself about needing friendships, it is the actions of individuals that shows you where the real horror lies.

Played at The North Bend Film Festival

Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78

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