Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder, 2004)

This remake of Romero’s film plays a rather integral part of my admiration for cinema. Yes, it’s awful (I’ll get into that in a bit), but when I saw this at the tender age of fifteen, I was more receptive to this sort of stylized form of cinema. I mean, at this point, I was beginning to become aware of IMDB and began to take notice on new films that weren’t traditional Hollywood blockbusters. And like most teenagers, I had a certain affinity for horror films, particularly zombie movies. And even now, there are certain unique aspects to Snyder’s debut film that does work well. But at this point, those aspects look tired and lazy, and are no longer the sort of things I look forward to in films.

I will say the film’s prologue and opening credits work exceedingly well in immersing the viewer in a modernized take of the zombie genre. The concept of the “running zombie” is commonplace at this point, but there’s something remarkably fresh about how we see it done in this film. Unfortunately, that’s the closest this film gets to receiving a compliment.

Snyder’s ADHD direction is so incredibly dated that it makes the whole feature nearly unwatchable. Not only are we exposed to a plethora of slow-motion sequences, but the film’s visual sense is utterly ridiculous – it’s a stylishly ugly mess. Film stock is exposed to such a degree that it appears that a thin layer of sweat covers each character. The screenplay is terribly problematic as well – characters are introduced in one scene only to be killed off in another. The problem is, Snyder attempts to derive some sort of emotional resonance from these moments – why should I care when they’ve just been introduced? The characters are flat, ultimately one can describe them through the simplest of terms – man, woman, cop, nurse, black, white. To reduce the film to one word, it’d probably be… bad.