Dawn of the Dead (2004)

When the undead rise, civilization will fall.

http://www.dawnofthedeadmovie.net/

A group of survivors take refuge in a shopping mall after the world is taken over by aggressive, flesh-eating zombies.

Come on, man. You must've heard the priest say something about life and death.
George Romero fans feared the worst, another one of his sacred original zombie trilogy films was being remade, this even though the remake of Night of the Living Dead didn't disgrace itself. As it happened, the fears were unfounded, for Zack Snyder and his team crafted one of the best horror remakes going.
The premise follows Romero's wonderful version, a mysterious epidemic is causing the populace to turn into undead zombies, the bite of which transfers the illness to another. A small group of survivors make it to the Crossroads Mall and hole up there whilst trying to keep at bay the zombie hordes, but inner fighting threatens the group whilst they know they can't stay there for ever.
Right from the off the film grabs you around the throat, it's a blistering and terrifying opening which brings heartbreak and terror in equal measure. It also announces to us that these zombies are different to Romero's, these suckers can run, and run fast. After some chaos and blood, the introductions to our survivors is set up and the pic settles into a superb group dynamic situation, where machismo and brains meet dumb and dumber, all while little devilish moments trickle away in the background.
It's the focus on the survivors that really lifts it to greater heights, how they variously react to their plight, there's good thought gone into the screenplay (James Gunn). The natural progression of this type of film calls for horror moments, and Snyder deftly slots them in when the pic needs them, which again brings about scenes of terror and genuine heartbreaking moments. Some neat cameos will be cheered by fans of Romero's work, while the cast are superb here, with Sarah Polley the standout fulfilling the believable promise of the character as written.
A remake that is its own beast yet still pays homage to what inspired it, and good at both! Now that's a rare thing in horror! 8/10

New Amsterdam Entertainment, Strike Entertainment, Metropolitan Filmexport, Toho-Towa, Cruel & Unusual Films, Universal Pictures by Zack Snyder, George A. Romero, James Gunn.
Stars: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, Jake Weber.

Genres: Action, Horror

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03/19/2004

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