Cert: 18 Runtime: 101 mins Director: Zack Snyder Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Michael Kelly and Tye Burrell
It’s nice to see that you’ve all bonded through this disaster
With World War Z coming out this week, I thought I would share with you one of my favourite zombie films. I know many people are like WTF, but really Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead a favourite of mine. Ana (Sarah Polley), a young nurse finishes her day-shift at the hospital to return home to her beloved husband, they make love and sleep together. The next day, after her husband is killed by her neighbour next door, he suddenly comes back to life. She discovers the chaos happening in her neighbourhood and escapes from her home. Soon after coming to her senses in the woods, she encounters a cop and other survivors, they decide to find safety in a mall. Soon more survivors come, and they learn that if they want to stay alive, they should stick together as the world is overrun by an army of undead. Can they survive the horror in this horrific global chaos? When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.First of all, the zombies (the word is never mentioned in the film) can be seen as the perfect society. There is no conflict between them, no hate, no prejudice, and no grudges. They exist only to create more, as humans invariably do.The survivors barricaded in the shopping mall are rebels. They are refusing to conform and fight for their life, for their right to be different. And with this right to be different comes conflict and turmoil.
The barricade between inside the mall and outside the mall is the line between the western world and the third world. Indulgent, ignorant and wasteful on one side and starving masses grabbing for whatever food they can on the other. DOTD 2004 offers a wider range of characters (more zombie nosh!) boarded up in the mall: cop, nurse, hoodlum, survivalist old lady, pregnant woman, security guards, gay guy, arrogant playboy millionaire, pretty girl and average Joe. It could be argued that they’re a far more PC assortment of characters than the original (DOTD 1978 had 2 SWAT cops and 2 reporters-the very people we rely on to protect and inform us in times of crises-chickening out of their utterly futile duties to fend for themselves) but it ends up with character arcs and a sense of sticking together to survive, despite differences, that the original didn’t have.The cast is well chosen and all act their parts brilliantly. Horror films have severely declined in recent years with most being turned into 20-something teen soap-opera trash. In DOTD 2004 you’ll see a realistic group of people dealing enormous pressure with sense and reason. However, there is one particular moment in which a complete idiot character jeopardises the security for everyone else for the dumbest and stupidest of reasons. It really bugs me that this device is in the film and it damages DOTD 2004 and prevents it from having any everlasting integrity.
There are a few references to the original (I’d hate to call them ‘in-jokes’ as that term would be kind of inappropriate for a film of this nature) that fans will have fun picking up on. But mostly the characters and situations featured in DOTD 2004 are completely new. The most interesting of which is the gun store owner across the street from the mall who communicates with Ving Rhames with his whiteboard and marker pen.Writer James Gunn unleashed an entirely new monster this time. Many people have strongly complained at the ‘fast zombie’ type seen in this movie and 28 Days Later. But they are far, far, FAR more terrifying than the slow, sluggish, rigger-mortis stricken corpses in the original. They’d be on you, ripping you’re throat out before you can say ‘crikey!’ Yes, the ‘turning times’ vary wildly in the movie, but it all depends on the bite and how bad it is.I had never heard of Zack Snyder before seeing this movie, but for a début feature he sure did impress me. Every scene in this film is shot and lit from an identifiable point of view. This could be YOUR shopping mall in YOUR town. Not some fantasy happening far away. It’s these kind of qualities that make DOTD 2004 stay with you.