innocent_man: (zombie)
[personal profile] innocent_man
Dawn of the Dead is a reimagining (it's not really accurate to say "remake," and I'll explain why) of the 1978 movie of the same name directed by George Romero. This version, directed by Zack Snyder, has 80% less slo-mo than his other movies, and while it has more action sequences than the original, it still feels like a zombie horror film rather than an action film. For a Snyder movie, this is a big deal.

So: Anna (Sarah Polley) gets off of a 13-hour shift as a nurse, goes home, snuggles up with her husband (naked, in the shower, so they miss the news report and don't know what's going on) and are awakened by the zombified version of the little girl next door popping into their room. The girl kills Anna's husband, who rises, chases Anna out, and she winds up driving through the wreckage of her neighborhood as cars crash and shit explodes. As she drives into Milwaukee, we cut to the opening titles, which, as is often true of Snyder films, are awesome and set to a strangely appropriate song (in this case "The Man Comes Around," Johnny Cash), and then we hook back up with Anna. She meets Kenneth (Ving Rhames) and then a small group of other folks, and they wind up at a mall.

Yes, the original had people going to a mall and holing up against the zombies, but that's basically where the similarity ends. The folks in the original were a pre-existing group of a couple, their friend, and his friend. This is a rag-tag group of survivors. Plus, the original only had four...though interestingly, we learned very little about them. Seriously, watch Dawn of the Dead (1978) and tell me about the characters. We know that Peter's of Trinidadian descent and his grandad was a voodoo priest, we knows that Roger is impulsive and grew up in a truck, and that's really it.

Whereas in this movie, the characters talk about themselves a little more. Yes, there are characters, some even major characters (Terry, the one security guard who isn't a total ass at the start; also Nicole, the girl he winds up snogging) that we know nothing about, not even in the director's cut. Kenneth reveals a little about himself, and Andre (Mekhi Phifer) has some backstory he shares, but his girlfriend Luda (Inna Korobkinka) doesn't. We only know she's Russian. That's all we get to hear about her.

The advantage to larger casts in horror movies is you can kill more people before you have to end the movie. The disadvantage is that they start to feel disposable if you don't take the time to establish them. So points off for Snyder and Gunn for not doing that, especially with the female characters (the movie does pass the Bechdel, for what it's worth).

Anyway, the characters make the decision to leave the mall and get on a boat, which is a decision that kills most of them. They eventually do get to the marina, get on Steve's (Ty Burrell) boat, and sail off into the credits...where they are apparently devoured by zombies on Dead Island.

The movie is bleaker than the original, but it doesn't carry the anti-consumerism slant, the zombies are different (one thing I noticed was how, in the beginning, you couldn't always tell a zombie from a living person since zombies can and do run), and zombism is pretty explicitly a fast-acting disease. These may seem like details only, but they change the movie pretty significantly, especially in terms of where the horror comes from.

I enjoy this movie, and I think it's actually more watchable than the original, which gets draggy in the middle.

My Grade: B+. Would be an A if they'd scripted the female characters better.
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Day of the Dead


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