I was one of the lucky few “nobodies” to attend last night’s premier of DAWN OF THE DEAD in Southern California. First off, let me congratulate Universal for preparing such a kick-ass premier. The theater was beautifully lined with those pretty orange Marquette?s. The place was packed and rowdy, and I even got a few autographs. Thanks Sarah Polley and Jake Webber! Enough with the premier and my social life, lets get into the film.
WOW! I was on the wringer the entire time. It has been a good ten years since I have been frightened by a film. Where do I start? First off, for all of the remake haters out there(and you know who you are), you will be thankful to know that zombies and a shopping mall are the only elements that were carried from Romero’s classic. Like Nispel’s TCM, DAWN OF THE DEAD(2004 style) steals only a tad bit of familiar material from the original, mixing it into a whole new, hearty soup. Romero’s basic story still remains, the zombies still eat flesh, and the world is in a crisis, although it’s touched upon more in this film.
The remaining survivors of this death plague must band together…YADA, YADA, YAD. But it’s not the story that makes this such a great horror film (it has been done before for Christ’s sake), but the energy, style, mayhem and frights that sets this remake atop of the bunch. The opening minutes of the film set perfectly the entire tone of the film– gloom, death, and drudge galore. Within minutes, a peaceful Wisconsin community turns into a supermarket for the living dead. Maybe your home is next. This is just one the many shocks that director Zack Snyder blasts at you.
His style and direction will grasp you, and never let go. Who ordered a side of zombie action? And may I mention lots and lots of gut-cringing, absolute terrifying zombie action. Anyone craving undead action will have enough to last them until the next ice age. It’s all about the zombie?s baby. Thank god for Synder making them scary again. And boy are they! These suckers will tear you to shreds. They run, they scream, and crave living organs. They hunt in masses and won’t die without putting up a good fight. They’re EVERYWHERE! These ghouls are easily the scariest, and best-looking zombies ever to grace the silver screen.
I can’t mention the title DAWN OF THE DEAD without having to say something about gore. Those looking for exposed viscera and gushing blood won’t completely be satisfied. Unlike Romero’s DAWN, this version doesn’t rely on the crimson to show the zombies’ threat. Although there is quite a bit of gore in this one (may I mention that a character has their throat torn right out of their neck–that had to hurt), the absence of it when compared to the original is obviously apparent.
Next up, the acting. I’d like to start off by saying that Ving Rhames does an incredible job of playing a character digresses from a villain-type to an all out hero. He has obviously seen the original, because a lot of his performance is reminiscent of Ken Foree from Romero’s version. Great job Mr. Rhames! Sarah Polley is another actress worth mentioning. This girl sure knows how to play fear. Where there really zombies on set?, she sure makes it feel like their were. Her character also goes through a drastic change… I won’t want spoil anything else.
Everyone else played fine, but they seemed to be too cliche–especially Mehki Pfiefer’s character. The look of DAWN OF THE DEAD 2004 is absolutely stunning. The totally trashed streets and mall interior have got to be some of the best sets that I’ve seen in any recent film. They only add to the all so doomy mood.
In the end, DAWN OF THE DEAD is everything and more that you have ever wanted in a zombie film. Pure terror, relentless action, foreboding doom, and a whole lot more. Zack Synder is one to look out for in the coming years. He’s sure to be a staple of our genre. If you want to be scared ****less and bedazzled by the undead, this is the film to see. In a world full of violence, warfare, and disease, you sort of wonder is the saying is true: “WHEN THERE’S NO MORE ROOM IN HELL. THE DEAD WILL WALK THE EARTH.” At least wait till I’m long gone.