Producers: Eric Newman, Marc Abraham, Richard Rubinstein
Written by: James Gunn
Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell,
Michael Kelly, Kim Poirier
George Romero made the low-budget classic Night
Of The Living Dead in 1968, and thus created a new
genre of horror cinema, the zombie flick. Owing to legal
complications, Romero was never able to establish the
ownership of his creation and so the property fell into
the public domain and the millions generated were lost
to him. From that bitter, un-reaped success, Romero would
plan a sequel of sorts that would expand upon the frightening
world glimpsed in Night Of The Living Dead. That
film was Dawn Of The Dead, a classic in its own
right. Imaginative story, great acting; who can forget
the scenes of zombies stumbling around a suburban mall
to the sounds of muzak—good times. There was a third
after that called Day Of The Dead, an ambitious
attempt to mix horror with science fiction, but really
the less said about that one the better.
If there was a major complaint about the old Dawn
Of The Dead it was that the zombies themselves were
none too scary; they moved around like wind-up penguins.
I always wondered how the dead were taking over when anyone
with half a brain and two legs would seem to be untouchable
to these lurching, cannibalized leftovers. This aspect
of the genre was improved upon by director Danny Boyle
in last year’s brilliant 28 Days Later. There
the undead were like running kamikazes, chasing their
prey with single-minded determination. This Dawn Of
The Dead seems to have borrowed those zombies.
And the film starts off well enough, with our heroine
Ana (Polley, a poor man’s Scarlett Johanssen)
and her husband awakened by their newly dead daughter.
From there we get an escape through the widening chaos
of hell on earth that culminates in a crash and close
encounter with a cop named Kenneth (Rhames). They
meet up with a few more survivors and take refuge in a
seemingly empty mall. From there the group expands to
take on more of the town’s remaining survivors,
an eclectic bunch who all spend their time complaining,
flirting, and exchanging what passes for witty dialogue.
Really the middle part drags, but it does boast a delivery
scene that makes the miracle of childbirth seem even more
disturbing than it naturally would be.
All is not well though, as the group realizes they can’t
make it there forever and decide to make for greener pastures.
To do so they soup up some shuttle buses, Road Warrior-style,
and make their way through an army of the undead. It’s
interesting how a bigger budget can turn a horror film
into an action film. Much like Aliens was to Alien,
this new Dawn Of The Dead is a bigger, louder film,
with lots of gunfights and explosions. Unfortunately these
frills hardly make up for what’s lacking from the
original. Satire is sacrificed for one-liners, story and
character development no longer attainable with Snyder’s
kind of slick ADD-addled directing. It also fails to make
us care whether any one of these people live or die. You’ll
be rooting for the zombies to break up the romantic subplot
involving Polley’s Ana and Jake Weber’s
Oh well, even though there was potential, I guess you
should never mess with a classic. And instead of shelling
out the cash for this lackluster remake I suggest staying
in and renting the original.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...