Now that the sawdust has finally cleared from last year’s dull Texas Chainsaw Massacre, here comes a horror remake that, while not up to par with the original, can hold onto the guts of the story.
What sets the Dawn of the Dead remake apart from the original are the drastic changes of the film’s details. Still, the remake stays true to the original Dawn’s theme — a message of adversity in a hopeless world.
Dawn has a high-gloss feel and special effects that would’ve blown minds in the ’70s but seem too unrealistic to be scary and too serious to be a spoof.
The film is kept afloat by a surprisingly believable cast of little-knowns that string together this fast-paced film about a zombie apocalypse. In George A. Romero’s 1979 classic, four unlikely strangers form a strong bond with one another to survive in a zombie-overrun world. In Zack Snyder’s remake, almost all the elements of Romero’s original vision are gone with the exception of a shopping mall.
The movie opens in what is a seemingly serene neighborhood, but by morning havoc strikes and zombies clean out an entire city. Ana (Sarah Polley) returns home after a long day’s work to the loving arms of her boyfriend. One peaceful night later, and her comfortable lifestyle takes a devesting turn for the worse. Fleeing a city that has been overtaken by the undead, Ana encounters four others, and, as a group, they barricade themselves in a shopping mall. As the film progresses, the group becomes larger to accommodate the new horror rule where body counts are larger and deaths are more gruesome.
The original Dawn’s quintessence captured the interactions between characters and their dependence on one another to survive. The remake faithfully keeps this important part intact while satisfying a bloodthirsty audience that has become increasingly harder to impress or surprise.
The film carefully straddles the line between a flashy horror comedy and a slice of theatrical cheese.
Mixing Resident Evil’s style with the flesh-eaters from 28 Days Later, Dawn’s highly stylized execution doesn’t give audiences a moment to catch a breath as every moment brings another attack, killing or dismemberment. The fast pace is a big difference when compared to the slow grind of the original where zombies moved at a snail-like speed and deaths were creative but few.
Dawn takes a shocking turn as the first zombie baby is born on-screen and silenced with a single gunshot. But underneath all the gore and carnage is a drama about surviving the impossible and having to say goodbye. That’s what makes zombie pictures interesting, not the body count or special effects, but this surreal world where living is a privilege not to be taken lightly.
Dawn is nowhere near as cutting edge as the original, but merits inclusion into the Dead franchise. The film is a strong piece of solid entertainment chock full of clever laughs and frights.