Dawn of the Dead
2004
In the wake of a plague, America is overrun by millions of corpses who walk the earth as cannibalistic zombies. A small group of survivors, including a nurse and a police officer, tries to find shelter within a massive shopping mall.

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

Jabs at consumerist society were at the heart of the original 1978 "Dawn of the Dead." When anarchy reigns and there are monsters everything trying to eat your brains, aren't some things more important than designer jeans and muzak? And that's my only gripe about the new film (other than an abrupt ending), that it has no interest in being a satire or making a statement or developing a theme. It exists as 100% entertainment only, when there is enough talent on both sides of the camera to push this great material further.

That said, as 100% entertainment, it fucking rocks. Purists may argue that the instant zombification of corpses and the running zombies that have shown up lately (most famously in "28 Days Later...") are cheating and 'unrealistic' (what?!), but they clearly have the effect of ratcheting up the tension. This is a thoroughly modern "survival horror" movie in which a gunshots have replaced creaking floorboards as the definitive sound effect. Instant zombification eliminates the old cliché of whether a loved one is a zombie or merely sick (although this movie does cheat with one person at death's door for a prolonged time), and it allows for a quicker elimination of an oversized cast of characters, in which there is enough room for two standard-issue jerks this time. This movie is fast-paced and generates a palpable sense of anarchy and of the absense of hope. It also gets very creative, particularly with the cinematography, which is not too lazy to set up several complex wide shots to establish the full range of the chaos.

This is a highly technically proficient film, creative and done with real effort. There is no weak link among any of the major talents involved, including the actors. It could have been a great film if it had demonstrated interest or awareness in anything other than itself and its predecessors, but for a pure-escapism survival horror movie, they don't come much better than this.

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