Director – Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300)
Starring – Sarah Polley (eXistenZ, Go), Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction, The Goods), and Jake Weber (Hell on Wheels, Wendigo)
Release Date – 2004
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 4/5
My range in horror has always been broad. When I was younger I loved all movie genres. I was a typical kid so I would check out movies like Space Jam, Heavy Weights, Air Bud, Prehysteria, and so on but when my mother was still around I was sometimes forced to watch movies against my will. This happened before she was institutionalized.
As a kid I liked some horror movies but I was forced to watch Evil Dead II and God Told Me To! years before my mom was diagnosed schizophrenic. She would tell my sister and I that we needed to watch these films to prepare but I never did find out what we were preparing for. Once she was out of the picture my grandmother would take care of us while we were out of town. She was obsessed with the SyFy channel way back when it was still Sci-Fi Channel.
It was here that I watched the Night of the Living Deadremake for the first time. I loved it and I soon tracked down the original film and Dawn of the Dead. I became obsessed with the series and when I was in high school news broke that Romero’s classic Dawn was going to be remade. While most people bitched and moaned I was excited.
I loved the NotLD remake and couldn’t imagine how awesome a Dawn remake would be. Recently, Scream Factory released the remake on blu alongside Romero’s Day sequel Land of the Dead. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy. I want to thank Scream Factory for sending this one my way.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows a nurse that loses her husband to an outbreak that turns the living into savage flesheaters. She flees after her community falls to the outbreak. She crosses paths with a police officer, an interracial couple expecting a child, and a man. They seek refuge inside a mall where they are greeted by a hostile security team that refuses to trust them. Things change over time and learn to trust each other when a truck of survives crashes into the loading dock. Things look up until the power goes out and the undead make their way into the mall forcing them to flee in hopes of finding an isolated island but not everyone will make the voyage.**Spoiler Alert**
I went into the remake expecting a more faithful adaption to the original film much like Savini’s remake of NotLD but was given something completely different. The film may be different but it still offers up a fun zombie experience unless you are those people that can’t get over the fact that zombies run.
The acting in this one is alright but it could have been better. I was never sold on the cast. I enjoyed Ving Rhames and Michael Kelly. Both delivers fantastic performances but I struggled to get behind Sarah Polley and Jake Weber as the film’s lead. Their characters just didn’t fit into the film like some of the others and their portrayal made them very underwhelming. The film really needed stronger characters than what was actually delivered.
The story for this one is loosely based on the original film. Director Zack Snyder made this movie his own and made some major changes. The mall aspect remains but most of the story was changed. The classic shambling zombie was replaced with a faster and meaner zombie which made for some intense scenes. The survivors have a hard time agreeing with one another which takes the viewers back to Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead where the group was split between fortifying the house or locking themselves in the basement. This created a great deal of tension which really drew the viewer in where the original Dawn film followed a group that was mostly unified and worked well together.
I also liked the fact that the story was remade to be a standalone film and created a new universe that was sadly never followed up with. My biggest complaint about the story is the characters. Some of the characters were flat and boring while others, though minor, were so enjoyable to watch. What made the original film so fun was the abundance of memorable characters that you want to see survive and thrive during the apocalypse instead of becoming zombie shit.
Finally, the film is full of great on screen kills with some amazing practical effects. I really enjoy the kills we get in this and the extent they went to use practical effects. The CGI is only for filler and not that noticeable. I was surprised to learn that A Nightmare on Elm St. star Heather Langencamp was one of the effects artists on the film. Overall, Dawn of the Dead is not a bad remake. In fact, I really enjoyed it. People often bitch about remakes but this one was solid. Check it out.
Behind the Scenes Footage
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
Splitting Headaches Featurette
Attack of the Living Dead Featurette
Special Report Featurette
Drawing the Dead Featurette