Dawn of the Dead (2004)

When there's no room in Development Hell, the Remake shall run on our screens

Ana (Sarah Polley) returns home after finishing a shift at the hospital, only to wake up the next day to the zombie apocalypse. Meeting Kenneth (Ving Rhames) and a number of other survivors, they make their way to hide out into a shopping mall, which soon becomes surrounded outside by swarms of zombies.

The film begins with an opening that sets up the main character of Ana and her life, before it then gets tense as the zombie apocalypse makes itself known to Ana in her own bedroom. This is then followed by the opening credits which are intercut with scenes of the world going to hell and society crumbling as the zombie apocalypse takes it's global hold, with Bob Dylan playing overhead. These opening credits do a very well done job of showing how society has crumbled in the wake of these latest developments, and I feel it manages to do this much better than Torchwood: Miracle Day attempted to (which also starred Mekhi Phifer).

As a lead role, Ana is believable, strong and driven, and Sarah Polley does a great job of playing her, giving a believable performance of the every-woman who's thrust into this new world where everything's different. Ving Rhames stars in his first role in a remake of a George Romero film (the second was the 2008 remake of Day of the Dead, but trust me, it's not worth it), managing to play Kenneth, a character that manages to be more than the hulking, intimidating figure of Ving Rhames, who forms a bond with Andy, the lone survivor who is trapped on the roof of the gun store across the zombie infested street from the mall. Andy is a remarkable character, in the sense that we don't see much of him, and when we do he's in the distance, and he barely speaks any lines, but we still manage to care about him just as much as, and in some cases even more than, the characters we spend the movie with, as he may only be across the street, but because of the hordes of zombies in-between, "he may as well be on the moon" as a character puts it.

Ty Burrell provides comedy as the typical jackass character that only cares about himself, a character who you either love for his cynicism, or hate for his being a jackass, and Michael Kelly plays C.J, a character who we initially hate during the early scenes in the film, but as the film-time runs on, he becomes a much more likable character.

The film manages to blend the light-hearted moments with the dark moments very well throughout the film, giving us fun moments of shooting celebrity lookalikes to not make this entire film feel like a depressing, wrist-slashing type movie. But there was one point where the blend of light-hearted moments did not sit well with the darker moments, as we are given a light-hearted montage of the characters enjoying themselves in the mall which followed straight after a dark and harrowing moment.

This isn't from the film, this is the actors dealing with their fans backstage

Dawn of the Dead wisely takes the opportunity that Resident Evil missed, by going for an 18 rated movie, which allows the film to revel in oceans of bloody, unrestrained violence, which gives way to the use of explosions and chainsaws. The tension is well built all throughout, especially through the action scenes and in the film's last act.

Zack Snyder may be a director who's primarily known for his overuse of slow-motion montages, but the slow-motion scenes aren't used for his first feature film. The zombie make-up is well done, giving way to the freakiest baby you'll see on-screen since Junior. It's refreshing to see a modern horror film where the characters aren't one-dimensional, as you can understand the motivations any of them make (except Steve, his motivation is just that he's a dick) and some characters make basic human mistakes, making them feel more like human survivors and less like film caricatures, but one mistake is a frustratingly bad decision, which may grate, but is the catalyst that sets the final act in motion. While the characters were well developed, I felt that a number of relationships would have benefited from additional time being spent building upon them.

Dawn of the Dead is one of the better remakes to be released in this remake boom that we've been experiencing. It can be light-hearted, comedic and fun throughout, but when it wants to be dark and tense, it will achieve this with no problems. It may not live up to the likes of John Carpenter's The Thing or Martin Scorcese's The Departed, but let me reassure you, it is far from the likes of Prom Night.


Aditya Gokhale said…
Nice review man...
but I don't really know..all Zombie flicks look essentially the same to me! :D
Myerla said…
Zombie celeb look alikes was fantastic. Yeah, I like this film lacks the brilliance of the orginal, they was more than just another zombie movie.
Matt Stewart said…
Nice work, my friend!
HarleyQuinn said…
great review my friend!
Tom_Film_Master said…
terrific review James! Still haven't seen this one yet. Once I recover from my horror marathon I will check it out.
Jesse P said…
I’ve seen this more times than I have seen the orginal – The ending scene in the Buses is one of the best things ever. Nice Review! It’s one my favourite remakes.
James Rodrigues said…
@Aditya Gokhale well, I don't know what to say to that

@Myerla that was one of the better scenes, I aim to watch the original Dawn of the Dead, its on my movie bucket list

@Matt S Cheers man

@HarleyQuinn Thank you, Indy Lover :D

@Tom_Film_Master If you haven't checked out the original first, i'd say to do what I never did and see that before you watch this remake

@Jesse P Technically, I have seen this more times than the original also, as i've seen this twice against none for the original, and the end bus scene is a brilliant scene, one of my favourite remakes also.

Cheers for reading, everyone