Dawn of the Dead (2004) Review

“… will have you on the edge of your seat for it’s entirety, and as soon as its over you’ll want to watch it again.”

Zombies are a staple in horror films, and have been for quite some time. Because of this, there are many zombie films released seemingly every year and believe me when I say that not all of them are good. That’s not to say that there aren’t some diamonds in the rough (most recently World War Z), and I decided to watch one of the shinier diamonds last night: the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. Dawn of the Dead is a classic film made by the zombie king George A. Romero, but it was remade in 2004 by director Zack Snyder (yep, that Zack Snyder). Usually remakes are not the greatest things in the world, but Dawn of the Dead remains one of the exceptions. Dawn of the Dead is a film about a group of survivors during a zombie outbreak surviving in a mall. That’s really all there is to it, but holy shit is it ever entertaining.

One of the first things that I noticed about Dawn of the Dead was the feel of the film. First we see the colours, which are vibrant and provide a happy feeling. This of course gets changed a bit when the action shifts to inside the mall, where the colour turns to more of a desaturated tone, but whenever the group is outside the colours remain ‘happy’. The music is the second thing I noticed. During the opening credits we get to see a nice montage of the outbreak taking over the world. This would be somber, but it is set to the Johnny Cash Song “The Man Comes Around” and even though the lyrics of the song are pretty bleak, the upbeat tone really sets the scene for what we are about to see. This continues throughout the film in many different instances (instrumental “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, a lounge rendition of “Down with the Sickness”, and some lovely elevator music in the middle of an intense scene), and it really accentuates the oddly upbeat tone of the film. I personally love this style because I am a huge fan of dark humour, so nothing is better than being able to laugh while the world is literally falling apart outside.

The second thing that caught my eye about Dawn of the Dead was how realistic the characters felt. Apart from Ana (who I will discuss later), every single person felt very real in the film. Nobody was good at every single thing, which is not only realistic but allows for the film to be challenging for the characters. The emotions that the characters were showing were what I imagine real people would exhibit during a situation as terrifying as this. And the decisions made, though they were sometimes stupid to the audience, felt like real decisions that would be made by people. These decisions mainly pertain to the killing of people who may or may not become zombies. On one hand, the audience knows that killing them is best, but to the characters that means killing another person. It was a well executed take on that dilemma. As for Ana, well she was about as charismatic as a wet blanket. You could argue that she was in shock or whatever, but seriously it looked like she had her face completely numbed before delivering all of her lines. I’m not really that familiar with the actress, so I don’t know if this issue is common throughout all of her films, but holy shit I didn’t think someone could look so disinterested while fighting for their life.

What I loved most about Dawn of the dead was that it just wouldn’t quit. From the moment the film starts, ‘till the moment it ends, there is always something insane happening. Now, this isn’t always an action scene, but even the scenes where really dark topics are explored were amazing to watch. The action scenes are really an added bonus, but holy shit were they intense. The film was also really well shot, which didn’t really surprise me but t was nice to see. The effects, while appearing not-so-great at times, were used sparingly, and also hidden, enough that they didn’t take my enjoyment away. I could honestly go on and on about this film and how great it is, but really you should just go and watch it.

Ultimately Dawn of the Dead is an emotional roller-coater of a film. It will have you on the edge of your seat for it’s entirety, and as soon as its over you’ll want to watch it again.

I give Dawn of the Dead an A

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