Well it's finally here; mooted as far back as ten years ago, the remake of George A Romero's classic 1970s zombie film does not lumber onto screens but runs at them and tears them to shreds!
For all of you out there that have no idea what I'm talking about; let's start at the beginning. A young nurse, Ana (Sarah Polley), goes to bed one night after a weird evening at the hospital with reports on TV of people biting each other and strange things happening in the wards. She is woken up in the morning by her daughter who bites her husband's neck open . . . and then things get really mad!
The living dead have risen, and Sara heads off towards town amid scenes of rising horror. After crashing her car she's rescued by a cop who thinks that heading to the local mall is the best place to defend himself and the rag tag group picked up along the way. Then it gets messy as thousands of zombies turn up to shop and attack the survivors. Who will survive the zombie onslaught and live to escape the besieged mall?
This time around all the ingredients from the first film are present, but this new version from music video director Zack Snyder is a whole new monster. The plot is the same in that a small group of survivors hole up in the local mall to hide from the zombies outside, but where Romero's film was also a comment on American consumerism, this beast is all about horror and shocks. That's not to say that this is bad, but it's more a straight-ahead horror film than a disguised social commentary, and what a film at that.
Taking the idea from 28 Days Later that these new living dead are fast and deadly like predators makes the threat to the little group all the more scary. One bite or scratch from the zombies and you turn into one, and this is used to brilliant effect. One memorably horrific scene sees the consequence of Mekhi Phifer character keeping his pregnant girlfriend's bite a secret from the others in order to deliver his baby safely. You know that this will not end well . . .
Ving Rhames as the cop and Sarah Polley as the nurse really shine in this film - they hold Dawn Of The Dead together but get great support from the rest of the cast, albeit in slightly underwritten roles. Worth the price of the ticket alone is one character who is the most sarcastic American I have ever seen this side of Frasier. He steals every scene he is in and you laugh just watching his expressions.
The zombie make-up is fantastic; they moan, they run (fast) and they rot as the film progresses, meaning that they look more horrible as time passes. The set pieces are amazing; from the comedy rooftop sniper scene to the frankly silly dog rescue it's all here for fans new and old. Edge of your seat stuff here with a great pace - the film never lets up for one frame - memorable scenes and truly frightening sequences mean that Dawn Of The Dead will stay with you long after you leave the cinema. See this late at night with friends and enjoy its inventiveness, sickness and demented story. You will want to come back for more helpings just like the zombies on screen!
:: Mark Cappuccio