Dawn of the Dead (2004)
This came out at the perfect time during a resurgence in a now very over populated zombie subgenre. Hot off the heels of Danny Boyles ever-growing cult classic 28 Days Later, this film only amplified the intensity and fear of fast zombies that Boyle so well introduced two years prior. Wasting no time with bloated exposition and over the top character introductions, this film goes straight in for the kill. Within minutes of it starting we get to see one of the best openings in any zombie film (with maybe the exception of Zombieland) showing immediately that this is one like no other. Paced to perfection, this is without doubt one of the greater zombie films available. One thing I really enjoy about these types of films is the character development that happens over the course of the films run time. These characters are placed into a situation that none of them anticipated and each grow and adapt to their surroundings, some for the better and some for the worse. It is here that this is done better than any other zombie film that I am yet to encounter and CJ played by Micheal Kelly's arc is the perfect example of this. He goes from being the arsehole of the group to then being a vital part of the team before ultimately sacrificing himself in order to save the remaining surviving members. The casting is really solid, a lot of the cast here seem like relatively unknowns, or at least to me anyway. This is something I actually prefer from my horror films, it provides a sense of authenticity to it. Obviously everyone is familiar with Ving Rhames who gives a great performance as officer Kenneth, he is someone who I would definitely want by my side in a zombie apocalypse. However it's the unfamiliars such as Ana and Micheal played by Sarah Polly and Jake Weber who really stood out to me as the better performances of the group. Steve played by Ty Burrell is for me my favorite character though, he is not a very likable guy but he has some of the best one liners, I would have liked him to have had a lot more screen time in this if I'm honest. We also have a lot of brief cameos here that hearken back to the original, with pop up appearances from Tom Savini, Ken Fore and Scott Reiniger. One thing that really annoys me about this film is the sub-plot with Andre played by Mekhi Phifer and his partner Luda played by Inna Korobkina. The whole pregnancy/baby zombie sub-plot that plays out and then results in a western style shoot out felt really out of place here. I can understand the idea behind it I just found it to be executed rather poorly. The subpar digital effects work when the baby was revealed didn't seem to help this either. This was something that has always bothered me but I'd never quite realised how much until my latest rewatch. The zombies themselves look incredibly realistic and genuinely terrifying. This film holds some of the best on screen zombies I have seen, my favourite being the Asian man with an arm missing sprinting through the car park. The make-up and effects for the zombies is really visually impressive and considering this came out in 2004 I think it still holds up to some of the more recent works on shows such as The Walking Dead. I think the decision to make these fast zombies rather than the traditional slow paced Romero zombies was a smart direction to go. It makes the threat so much more immanent and unavoidable. I have seen a lot of zombie films, it's usually my go to subgenre when I'm not looking for anything too heavy to watch, this is due to it usually having a very linear plot and doesn't require a great deal of narrative attention. There is no question that this is top tier in that subgenre. I always remember it being one of those films that I found myself constantly searching the Internet for any signs of a sequel after its release. As far as horrors movie remakes go, this is certainly one of the greater ones out there.