Dawn of the Dead
I'm not sure I can recall witnessing an opening sequence quite like the one I saw in Zack Snyder's remake of the classic horror film 'Dawn of the Dead.' Besides being rather lengthy (it's over ten minutes before we see the opening credits), it has a bizarre creepiness about it. There's something about the cinematography employed to show us 'the beginning of the end' that I really liked: that extra long image of the little girl skating away, the skyview of Sarah Polly's car as she rides home from her shift as a nurse, the picture of perfect serenity, and those intimate scenes we see of her and her husband 'the day before.' It all makes it more tragic, when, quite unexpectedly, morning comes, and with it, the end of all that is sane. The pure chaos of the scenario, an outbreak of a dangerous break of a virus that turns those infected into ghouls, comes so suddenly that it grips us by the throat.
This is one hell of a horror movie. Even for someone as jaded as myself, who has become totally jaded to any real horror thrills, I was taken aback by how uncomfortable the movie made me feel. Our heroes, holed up at the now abandoned local mall, join small groups of survivors and find themselves fighting each other as well as the zombies when the plague starts creeping ever close to bringing them all to the brink of annihilation. The zombies have an easy-to-spot weakness: one shot to the head takes them out, but they're extremely fast, and a single bite from them leads to hopeless infection and mindlessness. Although some of the story makes little sense (for instance, if the zombies can only transmit the virus by bite and the heroes are in a mall, couldn't they don the heaviest attire imaginable rather than skimpy t-shirts?), there are lots of great twists and snappy dialogue along with the required creep-outs, gore, and slaughter.
And there's some surprisingly great humor. Easily the most memorable of the light-hearted, break-the-nerves moments is when our heroes are situated atop a roof and challenge a local gun shop owner to take out look-alike zombie celebrities, which he does with ease. It's a much needed laugh to relieve the audience of a lot of built-up jitters.
Overall, this is a remake that actually works. The characters, for all their strength and weaknesses, are decently fleshed out for a horror movie. There a few unexpected surprises that even the most attentive viewer will take pleasure in. And the action moves along at a clean, fast pace. The few holes that exist in the plot and the somewhat unsatisfying conclusion are the only real problem areas, but these are to be expected in the genre. Overall, I definitely recommend it, even to the squeamish. It's messy fun for everyone. And make sure you stay until AFTER the credits roll. You'll be glad you did.