Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

"Very Good"

Dawn Of The Dead (2004) Review


When there's no room in Hell, the dead walk to the mall. That was the message of horror master George Romero's 1978 anti-consumerism flick Dawn of the Dead. This 2004 remake by first-time director Zack Snyder takes away a lot of the social message, and fills it instead with plenty of head-blasting zombie-killing mayhem and a surprisingly unpredictable storyline that--while far from perfect--is a lot of fun to watch.

The plot loosely follows the Romero original. This time around, the star of the survivors' crew is Ana (Sarah Polley), a nurse who wakes up from a romantic night with her boyfriend to a nightmarish world gone undead. Her neighbor's cute kid has turned into a flesh-eater, and has taken a big bite out of her sweetheart, turning him into one of her vicious kind. And, all over her idyllic suburban Wisconsin town, the dead are walking again; they're hungry, and they can run like the dickens.

Ana stumbles across some other "living": a cop (Ving Rhames), a recovering bad boy (Mekhi Phifer), his pregnant gal pal (can you see where this is headed?), and a level-headed everyman (Jack Weber). They make for the safety of a well-stocked shopping mall, holing up with three security guards and hoping to be rescued by the military. Not a bad way to spend a zombie crisis! Much like the original, Snyder's version shows our castaways indulging in the consumerist joys of the shopping mall and the company of each other--kind of like an apocalyptic Breakfast Club.

After more survivors make their way to the mall, it soon becomes clear to nurse Ana how the zombie disease spreads: by bite; and the only cure is a shotgun blast to the head or via a little taste of fire. So what do they do now? Wallow in their mall bounty until they're starved out? Or find a way to escape? And to where?

The new Dawn isn't short on fast-paced, extremely gory action, especially in the several awe-inspiring scenes of zombie masses overrunning city, state, country, and possibly even world. But there are also an excellent handful of comic touches thrown in, helping to keep the movie from droning downward into cliché. For example, there's the rooftop conversation using dry-erase boards between Rhames and a gun-store owner islanded across a mall parking lot, followed by that same gun-store guy's sniper-style shooting game, picking off zombie celebrity look-alikes for points. In total, this update has all the brutality of such recent undead favorites as 28 Days Later, but still maintains the humor that Romero worked into his Dead trilogy. Romero fans shouldn't be too let down by that mix.

The talented cast, which includes such proven performers as Polley (The Sweet Hereafter, Go) and Rhames (Pulp Fiction, Out of Sight), are only icing on the cake. Let's face it; zombie flicks don't pose a serious acting challenge for some of these folks. But in the end, they help build the suspense and sustain the humorous elements. Much of Dawn wouldn't have worked well without their efforts.

And finally, Snyder keeps the whole thing visually fresh with a range of shooting, from slick, commercial-like filming to cinema verite-style grainy DV. He even ventures to expand the movie into its closing credits (rather nastily, I might add), which further keeps this film from ever being dull.

The only warning I offer is that this is one gruesome blood-fest. Snyder establishes very early on, prior to the opening credits (set tidily to the musical stylings of Johnny Cash), that he's not afraid to let the blood packs splatter. But once you get used to the carnage, you may just find yourself on a rather terrifying yet thrilling little ride. And if you're already a die-hard zombie movie fan, you'll leave your memories of the Romero version behind, just to indulge in the delights of Snyder's wild, new, imaginary interpretation.

Fans will want to check out the unrated DVD, which adds more than the usual few lame seconds of footage that you get on this "unrated" editions. Rather, director Snyder introduces his film as an extended and "more personal" cut, with 12 minutes of deleted scenes, an extra 15-minute short vignette tracking Andy's final days, and a handful of gore-infused making-of documentaris. Snyder and prodcer Eric Newman also add a commentary track to the blood-soaked mix.

Help is on the way at your local multiplex.



Facts and Figures

Box Office Worldwide: $102.4M

Budget: $28M

Production compaines: Universal Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Ana, as Kenneth, as Michael, as Andre, as Steve, as Frank, as C.J., as Terry, as Nicole, Michael Barry as Bart, Jayne Eastwood as Norma, Boyd Banks as Tucker, Inna Korobkina as Luda, as Monica, Louis Ferreira as Luis, Scott H. Reiniger as The General, as The County Sheriff, as The Televangelist, Natalie Brown as CDC Reporter

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.