Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Film: Dawn of the Dead
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: James Gunn
Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames and Mekhi Phifer
This film begins in a hospital where a doctor is looking at a CT scan of someone’s head. The nurse that is with him is played by Sarah Polley. The doctor asks her why there is this scan in his file. She tells him that she is not sure, he was brought in with a bite during a bar fight. She goes to the front desk to find where the patient is and we learn that he is in the ICU now.
Polley goes home where she speaks with the little girl that lives next door; she is played by Hannah Lochner. Polley then goes inside for date night with her husband, played by Louis Ferreira. They end up making love in the shower.
The next morning they are woke up by Lochner. She is missing her lips and is covered in blood. She bites the neck of Ferreira. She is knocked out of the room and they close the door on her. Ferreira is losing a lot of blood. He dies on the bed while Polley tries to call an ambulance. The line is busy though. He immediately turns into a zombie. He chases her into the bathroom. While he is breaking in, she escapes through the window. We see outside that everything is chaos and everyone is scared. Polley drives away.
She sees that this is much larger than she thought. She ends up pulling in behind a bus and the driver attacks her, trying to take her car. She gets away from him, but loses control and crashes down an embankment.
The film then does the opening credits. It is edited to give us background information through news reports, show scenes of civil unrest, zombies killing people and even images from the original Dawn of the Dead.
Polley wakes up and escapes the car. She is met by a shotgun that is held by Ving Rhames. He is a cop. He learns that she is normal. They move down a path and we learn that Rhames is headed for Fort Pastor, where his brother is. They get shot at by another group, but learn they are not infected either. This other group is Jake Weber as well as a couple of Mekhi Phifer and Inna Korobkina. Korobkina is pregnant. They state that the road is impassable with zombies and that they are headed for the mall.
They break in, being rushed by zombies. Inside they are attacked near a fountain. It grabs a hold of Korobkina, but they get it away from her. Rhames wrestles with it in the fountain before they finally subdue it. It isn’t dead though, as it continues to twitch back and forth. It is decided then to investigate the rest of the place. Weber goes into a sporting goods store where he has to fight another off.
This group goes upstairs where they meet a group of security guards. The guards are led by Michael Kelly. His second in command is Michael Barry while the trainee is Kevin Zegers. They at first are telling them to leave, but Kelly is convinced to let them stay. Weber works it out with Kelly to put a sign on the roof to let everyone know they are alive inside. Polley has to stitch up Rhames’ hurt arm. In the bathroom we also learn that Korobkina has been bit.
Kelly locks up the other group, but Zegers the next morning lets them out. A truck pulls into the parking lot and is looking for a safety. Kelly doesn’t want to let them in for fear they are infected. He is upset that Zegers let out the prisoners. Kelly and Barry are quickly overpowered and locked up. They decide to let the other survivors in.
They create a plan and get them in. This other group was driven there by Jayne Eastwood. With her is Boyd Banks, who hurt his foot on the way there. There is a rich jerk, played by Ty Burrell. A young woman played by Lindy Booth, with her father who is played by Matt Frewer, a homosexual organ player played by R.D. Reid in this group. There is another woman played by Kim Poirier as well as large woman who needs to be brought in by a wheelbarrow. She has been bit.
This woman turns into a zombie. She is taken care of. They surmise it is the bite that causes the change. Frewer is quarantined off and Phifer doesn’t tell anyone about Korobkina’s wound.
They watch different programs to learn more about what is going on before the televisions go out. Actors from the original film make appearances during this. Tom Savini as the county sheriff, Scott H. Reiniger as a general and Ken Foree as a televangelist all make an appearance. Foree also gets to drop his famous line for this film as well.
Despite minor hiccups, they secure the building and carry on some normalcy to their life. They soon are running low on supplies and ammo. They befriend a man across the parking that runs a gun store; he is played by Bruce Bohne. Rhames informs them that they need to get out of here. It is decided that they will reinforce parking shuttles that are parked in the garage and go for Burrell’s boat. They want to sail to an island to escape this nightmare.
Will they make it? Can they get these buses secured? Even if they do, can they get passed all of the zombies to make it to the docks? Is there even an island that will allow this plan to work?
I need to lead off saying that I am not a huge fan of fast moving zombies. Also one of my favorite films of all time is the original Dawn of the Dead. With that said, this is an excellent remake. They took what made the first one great and used that, but they added different things to it to allow this film to stand alone as well. I think the acting is good across the board. I think the story is well written and the situations make you think about what you would do if you were in them. There are things that are done in the heat of the moment that are believable as well. I think the fast moving zombies are good for this film to help make this one different. This film has some great overhead shots that help make this feel more real and to present the gravity of truly how many there are and how bleak the outlook is. I really love that. I also felt that the ending for this film is great as well.
I don’t really have a lot to say negative and most things would be knit-picking. This film is the remake to the most prolific zombie film of all time, right behind Night of the Living Dead from 1968. I have already stated that I’m not a big fan of fast moving zombies, because rotting corpses would have breakdowns that would prevent this. Also Phifer annoyed me pretty much the whole film and Rhames is frustrating that he is so ready to leave to find his brother, but then ends up becoming strong leader. As I said, none of this ruins the film, but my personal feelings on things in it.
With that said, I would highly recommend seeing this film. If you like horror, zombies or just want to see a good film, I would say to give this one a viewing. There is good acting, a solid story and an overall scary situation to be in. This film shows both sides of human nature, through the infected and uninfected people. This film moves at a good pace and keeps you interested from beginning to end. I do not feel you will be disappointed.
My Rating: 8 out of 10