Directed by Zack Snyder
Running Time: 1:40
Filled with enough blood and gore to make even Fangoria fans happy, Dawn of the Dead was a good, old-fashioned splatter-fest that was short on story, but long on violence.
Ana wakes up one day to find that the world has gone to the zombies. She escapes from her boyfriend's clutches, and meets up with other survivors. Together, they congregate at a local mall to plan for the rest of their lives. In the end, only a few survive.
So that's pretty much the story. Dawn of the Dead doesn't go into any detail as to why people suddenly turned into flesh-eating zombies, or how they turned into flesh-eating zombies, just that suddenly one morning, a town in Wisconsin of all places, has turned into a haven for flesh-eating zombies. The movie starts nice and sweet, with Ana working in a hospital, then driving home and talking to a nice, cute neighborhood kid. Then the next morning the kid tries to eat Ana and her boyfriend, and we're off and running. I checked my watch; it was a slim 5 minutes before the blood started to flow. Or in this case, spurt. Ana runs outside and her entire town is on fire with people eating each other. There was some nifty camera work in the escape sequence, and some cool special effects. I particularly enjoyed a shot from high above as Ana drives away where you see a van fly from her left, crash into a car in front of hers at full speed, then crash into a gas station and go up in flames.
Sarah Polley, while not the first person I would have imagined to play a scream-queen, was probably a good choice, since she doesn't come with any baggage. Had you thrown in a Jennifer Love Hewitt type, or a similar better known figure, you may have been watching them, instead of their character. She was tough, yet gentle. Ving Rhames will always be the coolest guy on screen, no matter who he's matched up against, and his tough-talking yet also gentle police officer had a few good lines. Simple lines that involved one or two words and inevitably one of those words would be a curse word, but coming out of his mouth, it was a riot.
And that was one thing that I really liked about Dawn of the Dead; the humor. I mean yes, there were disturbing creatures that enjoyed eating flesh, but the movie was still pretty funny. It's nice that people can be trapped inside a mall with thousands of zombies outside ready to eat them, and still have a good time. Lots of partying and sex and whatnot. Romance builds on the inside, a child is born (under demonic circumstances of course). It was like having a big rave at a mall, but only a few people made it inside, and most of the ravers were outside and walking around dead.
Last year a movie called 28 Days Later came out, and everyone was talking about how it was the next coming of zombie films. Personally, I found the film kind of boring. I think it had a better story, with actual explanations for what/how things were happening, but for pure chills and thrills, it left me feeling blah. I even watched it with someone who gets scared if you cough too loudly in the dark, and she was bored. Dawn of the Dead will have even the toughest horror fan jump at least once, and the special gore effects were a lot of fun. You had zombies getting their heads blown off; a zombie woman giving birth is a scene that reminded me of the Exorcist; zombies getting sharp objects slammed into their head; zombies getting burned; zombies run over by trucks; zombies getting blown up. If there was a way to kill a zombie, it was shown in the film.
I suppose the only thing missing was some kind of reasoning why this started. There was a brief discussion about how people got infected, which I thought was fairly obvious, I mean, you get bit you turn into a zombie. But there was nothing about how all this started. I would have been happy with a two-line explanation early on that some government testing went wrong or something fell from outer space. Or the Devil itself came up and did this. But there was nothing. The ending was also interesting, so don't leave when the first closing credits show up, because it's far from over.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, being a horror fan, I have to say I enjoyed Dawn of the Dead. It had a lot of chills and thrills and some really cool zombie effects. Some of the death sequences had the audience clapping and how often does that happen? As far as horror films go, it's definitely worth a look.
Dawn of the Dead
Night of the Living Dead
Day of the Dead
28 Days Later
© 2004 Wolfpack Productions