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16 reviews, 195 user ratings

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Dawn of the Dead (2004)
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by Mel Valentin

"Finally, A U.S.-made horror flick worth recommending."
4 stars

"Dawn of the Dead," a remake of George A. Romero's classic zombie horror film of the same title, is tailor made to meet audience expectations: in providing a steady stream of visceral shocks and thrills, high levels of gore (mostly of the exploding head variety), tightly edited action/chase scenes, the occasional awe-inspiring shot (an early God's eye view of the city at peace, and moments later, under attack; later still, a wide shot of the zombies at night attacking two vans), and a quickly ratcheting up a sense of apocalyptic doom. Add a bitter, bleak denouement for a central character, and the end result is one the best horror films in recent years.

Dawn of the Dead opens in media res. The virus that causing the infected to die quickly, only to re-awaken as feral zombies has already spread throughout the city. The initial action centers on a local hospital, with the newly infected carted in on gurneys (the medical staff is unaware of what's about to befall them). After introducing the audience to Ana (Sarah Polley), a nurse just finishing her shift, the action slows, as Ana goes home, relaxes, takes a showers, and spends time with her husband. As the two of them blissfully make love, they miss the evening news, which notes the recent upsurge in random violence. The next morning, as chaos swirls outside their home, a neighbor, a young girl, knocks on their bedroom door. Within moments, Ana's husband is infected, doomed to an afterlife as a flesh-eating zombie.

Ana escapes from her zombified husband, only to drive her car into a nearby ditch. Ana quickly meets other survivors, Kenneth (Ving Rhames), a police officer, Michael (Jake Weber), Andre (Mekhi Phifer), a drug dealer, and Andre's pregnant wife, Luda (Inna Korobkina). With the roads blocked, the group hikes over a hill, discovering an abandoned shopping mall, their new "home" for most of the film's running time. Before they can call the mall their own, however, they have to contend with CJ (Michael Kelly), a trigger-happy security guard, as well as his two, inexperienced assistants. Later, after the personality conflicts between the central characters are more or less resolved, an entirely new group of survivors is added to the volatile mix. Eventually, of course, either the zombies massing outside the mall get in (the zombies can obviously smell human flesh) or the survivors break out, for some other, safer sanctuary.

The zombies in the new Dawn of the Dead are feral; they run fast (as opposed to the better-known, slow-moving variety); they're essentially operating with only their reptilian brains, with only one goal, to appease their insatiable hunger for human flesh. For zombie horror purists, "fast" zombies completely subverts a major element of the sub-genre. Remakes, despite being made with the bottom line in mind, should, at minimum, provide the audience with more than a shot for shot remake (e.g., Gus Van Sant's exercise in postmodern masturbation, Psycho). Of course, the influence and impact of the recent 28 Days Later shouldn't be underestimated (transforming the slow, shambling zombies into feral animals, as well as the editing, desaturated color palette, grainy photography, and open aperture camerawork in the later action scenes familiar from Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator).

The new Dawn of the Dead, however, stumbles in several ways. First, the screenwriter, James Gunn, included far too many characters: the first group of five, Ana (who emerges as the presumptive protagonist), Michael, Kenneth, Andre and his wife, find each other too quickly; within minutes, the narrative expands to include three security guards who are safeguarding a now deserted mall, and later, another five or six characters, most of them generic, stock characters added to the film presumably for one purpose, as zombie fodder. Out of the second group of characters, only Matt Frewer (TV's Max Headroom) makes an impression in a limited role. The other superfluous, generic characters include a farmer, an old man, an old woman, another old woman in the last stages of the infection (to disastrous, bloated effect), an arrogant television personality, a slutty woman in heavy makeup, and a teenage girl. Part of the problem can be traced to the central characters finding the shopping mall within the first ten minutes. Instead, they should have encountered more obstacles, more hair-raising escapes, perhaps attempted to locate an evacuation shelters first, followed by the retreat to the shopping mall (which could have eliminated the need for additional characters).

Oddly, Dawn of the Dead never settles on a protagonist. The film opens with Sarah Polley's character, Ana, as the likely protagonist, but once Kenneth is introduced into Dawn of the Dead (followed closely by the introduction of Michael, Andre, and Andre's wife), Ana devolves into a passive, supportive character since she is, after all, a nurse. Given the history of horror movie (and sci-fi/horror) heroines who prove themselves equal to, or better than, their male counterparts (and villains), Ana's near disappearance after the first half hour is a major disappointment. With plural protagonists, screen time and character arcs (as well as contributions to major plot points or plot turns) have to be balanced properly to keep audience interest nearly equal across the characters. Introducing the additional group of characters in the second act leaves the other characters scrambling for screen time and narrative purpose.

"Dawn of the Dead's" problems don't stop there, however. Gunn and Snyder indulge in a totally wrong-footed end credits coda. The coda simultaneously gives too much away (leaving too little to the imagination), ending "Dawn on the Dead" on the bleakest note possible. The coda is composed of gimmicky, MTV-style quick edits that closely follows one of the worst films in recent history, "House of the Dead." Still, for the visceral shocks and action set pieces (not to mention a fair level of top-notch gore for a major studio release), "Dawn of the Dead" deserves a strong recommendation, especially for horror fans.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8887&reviewer=402
originally posted: 05/27/05 01:12:16
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 ScreamFest L.A. Horror Festival. For more in the 2004 ScreamFest L.A. series, click here.
Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell good remake imho 4 stars
8/05/12 Jeff Wilder Completely pointless and unnecssary remake. Stick with the original instead. 1 stars
8/09/11 Dreary A real zombie recovery story! Zombie finds new life in Modern Family! Way to go Phil! 4 stars
9/17/10 art ROMERO"S 2005's LAND OF THE DEAD is the best ZOMBIE film EXTENT! 1 stars
12/25/09 Chad Dillon Cooper Sight ,Hostess twinkie remake. Kids will think this is "awesome". 2 stars
12/23/09 art BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL,which isn't saying A HELL OF ALOT! 2 stars
10/18/09 Chad Dillon Cooper A light weight remake in name only. Typical Hollywood Hostess Twinkie garbage. 2 stars
7/07/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* This movie is a great zombie flick. Awesome guns and storyline!!!!! 5 stars
6/15/09 scott The 'pot noodle' version of a horror. This will NOT leave you satisfied! 3 stars
12/18/08 Craig D. It's "28 Days Later" without the interesting characters and memorable scenes. 3 stars
9/02/08 Shaun Wallner Great Horror film!! Kept me on the edge of my seat 5 stars
1/08/08 art COMIC-BOOK STUFF 1 stars
11/03/07 Ivana Mann Probably the best horror remake ever made.Creative spin on Romero classic. 5 stars
10/14/07 fools♫gold Why is this considered a remake? Predictable and sucky. 2 stars
9/26/07 Marco Wow... it could've been good but the running zombies and the MAIN FEMALE ruined everything. 1 stars
4/20/07 Tina Robertson/Anderson I love zombie flicks and this one was the best! 5 stars
1/23/07 Krinkels Why all the good reviews? I thought Uwe Boll directed this piece of shit. 1 stars
1/02/07 del Mediocrity squared. 3 stars
12/11/06 Angela Saunders Fast moving and worth watching if you like SCARY!! 4 stars
12/11/06 al watchd 34 times 5 stars
12/04/06 Stanley Thai A good remake but it's too long. 4 stars
11/10/06 David Pollastrini good gore. 5 stars
10/16/06 AJ Muller kickass action/horror hybrid with smarts AND style AND fun 4 stars
7/29/06 Dethbyhashi Running Zombies. Bad Idea!! 3 stars
7/16/06 mark just fucking great to watch 5 stars
6/07/06 ES Best zombie flick ever 5 stars
2/19/06 chris f doesnt even compare with the original 3 stars
2/04/06 Shawn Gadberry Best ZOMBIE remake! Best ZOMBIE movie period--since the original DAWN OF THE DEAD! 5 stars
2/03/06 Michele loved it 5 stars
1/18/06 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Just as great as the original, Just in a differetn way. 5 stars
11/21/05 Stefan Halka Decent remake. For some reason I like it better than Romero's version. 3 stars
10/28/05 Monday Morning I've been to Milwaukee, and there ARE zombies there. They're called the Brewers. 4 stars
10/24/05 DEEDeeDEEe I seen More action At the grave yard! Poop! 1 stars
10/21/05 cypress Great remake, must-see if your a zombie freak, lots of action 5 stars
9/25/05 K. Sear Generic, useless, boring, rehashed, predictable, brain-dead crap. 1 stars
8/31/05 Klondo there need to be more characters like CJ 4 stars
8/13/05 Ric It's a great rollercoaster ride, the best action/horror flick in years. 5 stars
8/11/05 ES Finally a zombie movie with a sense of dread, this movie was excellent 5 stars
6/25/05 DennyRoss Raises the bar for the zombie genre - how about a sequel? 5 stars
6/06/05 Anthony G holy shit, action from beginning to end, AWESOME. 5 stars
6/04/05 Mike Jozic Surprisingly brilliant remake of a horror classic. Must see flick! 5 stars
5/31/05 Scott Reynolds A ton of fun, especially the first 10 minutes, which will blow you away. Dark and bloody. 5 stars
5/27/05 Christy Schultz Not bad...lots of gore. 4 stars
5/16/05 E-FUNK Surprisingly fucking awesome. Doesn't hold a candle to Romero's 'Dawn'. Still fucking cool. 5 stars
5/01/05 MeredithL Fun, scary and never dull! 5 stars
4/24/05 Indrid Cold Better than the original, but still a perfectly mediocre horror movie. 3 stars
4/24/05 Clubber Lang Great first and last 20 or so minutes, but needs stronger characters to make the middle fly 3 stars
4/22/05 Domingo Montayo Oh god its so lame, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish 1 stars
4/17/05 Brig. Gen. Ripper It must be something in the water up in Wisconsin 5 stars
4/14/05 Raymond Montoya the Best Zombie movie ever!!!!! I love this movie 5 stars
4/03/05 Ric It's a scary, fast-paced, action-packed ride. Best horror film of the decade. 5 stars
4/02/05 Tom Ciorciari Not s'good 2 stars
3/24/05 dwarzel Most excellent humor for a zombie movie 4 stars
3/21/05 Uncle Phucker Some cool moments, but nothing compared to the original films of George Romero. 3 stars
3/18/05 Jin Horrifying and disturbing that people waste time on crap like this. Dumb soundtrack too. 1 stars
3/16/05 Naughty Devil Man Has a very nihilistic "fuck the world" teenage mentality. 2 stars
2/25/05 zoe hunter enjoy a good zombie flick like this one..love sarah!! 4 stars
1/31/05 Wendy S. Blew me away! 5 stars
1/28/05 WILLIAM CAMPY BUT FUNNY! 3 stars
1/21/05 Tjalda L. Schiel Ho Hum...Another typical day at the mall. 3 stars
1/11/05 Ron Newbold It was fun once but I won't watch it again anytime soon 3 stars
1/10/05 Kristina Williams loved it 5 stars
1/09/05 Brett Unfortunately not as good as I hoped. 3 stars
12/15/04 J Dead can sure run!!! 5 stars
12/15/04 ALDO I agree with the boring characters....but still deserves a look 4 stars
12/11/04 Charlene Javier Pure popcorn fun! 4 stars
12/10/04 Al Guy Get down with the sickness! 5 stars
12/09/04 tony this movie was pretty bad near the end. Kinda cheezy. But otherwise ok. rent this movie 3 stars
12/08/04 frosty Definitely good, but not really scary. 3 stars
12/04/04 Maalstrom Was boring after the first opening scene. Some REALLY dumb characters 2 stars
11/13/04 Darryl Great opening sequence, then down hill. Not EVEN the least bit suspensful. 2 stars
11/02/04 tatum It's obvious SOMEONE in Hollywood really liked "28 Days Later" 3 stars
10/30/04 asina you can't compare this to the original - too different. great opening montage, though... 4 stars
10/30/04 Geo78665 Starts and ends great, but has boring characters, and lacks a sense of dread. 3 stars
10/29/04 The Talking Elbow Watch the first half of 28 days then tell me this movie couldn't have been better. 3 stars
10/24/04 Ric A terrific rollercoaster ride of action and horror. 5 stars
10/24/04 Tom Ciorciari the best first 15 minutes i've seen in a long time 3 stars
10/12/04 me a great film 5 stars
10/07/04 The Grinch The original is a smarter movie, but this Rubinstein remake is fun, and will help Romero 5 stars
9/01/04 Adam I LOVE THIS MOVIE. IT WAS AWESOME! 5 stars
8/27/04 Mike Stanbridge The original still rules! Romero is King of the Zombie flick. 4 stars
8/20/04 Jimmy Great Remake of my Favorit Horrorflick 4 stars
8/14/04 Anthony G fucking awesome movie 5 stars
7/28/04 Shams Huque Awesome film! 5 stars
7/26/04 Kayla this was a great movie! it has scary moments and it has momenys like run stupid!!!1 So i sa 5 stars
7/25/04 Pure RAGE... It was okay... 4 stars
7/04/04 spritely Shocked to discover it's better than the first 5 stars
7/04/04 Brian C0urtney Holy cow! Awesome, gritty horror flick to rage against current teen camp! 5 stars
6/18/04 sumixam Best Horror movie in 20 years 5 stars
6/14/04 Lizzy I feel asleep...need I say more 2 stars
6/14/04 Jordan Davis This movie had its moments. If you're looking for some good fun, it's an excellent choice! 4 stars
6/14/04 d.t.carney awesome don't miss this film !!!!!! 5 stars
6/12/04 malcolm interesting, not a single good thrill 3 stars
6/11/04 cornelious parker awsome zombie movie. zombies are awesome, and this movie did them justice. 5 stars
6/11/04 DJ ERIC 88 wow what a movie! the opening sequence kicked!!!! 5 stars
6/10/04 Matt best zombie movie ever 5 stars
6/05/04 Norema Cameron Fairly watchable thriller, with typical stupid horror-movie ending. Marginally worth look 4 stars
5/24/04 Mitch From genius cinematography to the brilliant use of Johnny Cash...wow. 5 stars
5/20/04 Eloise an insut to the original, weak performances, just plain bad 1 stars
5/19/04 Jeff S Great use of music and editing, but zombies that run like cheetas? 3 stars
5/14/04 earl duron best horror film in years 5 stars
5/05/04 J.Peckerfoot they ran in 28 days later,now they can die in style too! 5 stars
5/05/04 Bobby Fisher none stop, top shelf horror, very edge of ur seat.... lovely stuff 5 stars
4/23/04 Drew Excellent re-make. Alot more chilling than first anticipated. Speedy zombies much scarier. 5 stars
4/23/04 maxomai An erotic thriller for Nekromantik fans everywhere 5 stars
4/20/04 TonyMontana Only worth watching in theaters 4 stars
4/18/04 jj if this was the worst ever made it would still be better than the original which sucks 3 stars
4/18/04 Zach The opening 10 minutes is STUPENDOUS! 5 stars
4/15/04 TWINEY More fun then horror 4 stars
4/15/04 Jeff MacIver Shuffling zombies are officially a thing of the past. 4 stars
4/14/04 rojo Classic horror, top shelf. 5 stars
4/13/04 slayathon I really had fun watching this but I did not like the ending 4 stars
4/12/04 Mario St.Clair Great movie. IF you havn't seen, go see it. 5 stars
4/12/04 Mike V When of the best horror films I've ever seen! 5 stars
4/11/04 Will Taylor this film is an hour and a half which wasted my life! 2 stars
4/09/04 mlh Aliens meets Zombie Flick 5 stars
4/08/04 David R Good action remake of a great horror classic. 5 stars
4/08/04 Eloise crappy, weak, pointless, shameless hollywood remake of a good film. WHY? 1 stars
4/07/04 Mark Awesome film. Fresh, yet does real credit to the original. Gotta love a good zombie flick. 5 stars
4/05/04 Samuel just watch the origional instead, its much better 3 stars
4/05/04 George Baumert Action Packed Fun 5 stars
4/05/04 puckfreak Now, one of my all time favorites 5 stars
4/03/04 Eric A fantastic thrill ride, actually even better than the original. 5 stars
4/02/04 Alexander Miller The best horror film since erm... well, ever 5 stars
4/01/04 re a great film 5 stars
4/01/04 Obi Wan Very good remake. Anyone feel the video game version of Resident Evil coming?? 4 stars
4/01/04 Tim Whitcher A Hollywood CGI mess. Rotting zombies with strength? Come on! 2 thumbs bit off.... 1 stars
3/31/04 tediboy good movie but not to be compared with the original 4 stars
3/31/04 mcgill373 28 days later with a budget 5 stars
3/31/04 thomas clark loved im much better than the original 5 stars
3/30/04 Rod ONeal Very good film- although the ending lost steam. 5 stars
3/29/04 cpkpixel Excellent! Scary, gory and deeply though provoking.... 5 stars
3/29/04 Kenny Ward Gore fest 2004 (excellent) 5 stars
3/29/04 Chris Barts See the original for a good movie, or see one of the millions of other cheap zombie flicks. 1 stars
3/28/04 Mr Lucky They could have trimmed 45 minutes off this monster movie. 2 stars
3/28/04 Katie, 16 It reminded me a little too much of 28 Days Later, but I really enjoyed it. 5 stars
3/28/04 danny perrigoy great film keeps u either on the edge of your seat or curreld in a ball 5 stars
3/28/04 Jean Oh Man! that was GOOD ! 5 stars
3/28/04 Pasquale Buba They already made 28 Days later and that film was betr 1 stars
3/27/04 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Better than average slasher pic. Soundtrack is the most pleasantly surprising. 4 stars
3/27/04 Taylor It was f*king AWESOME! i have a bit of crude humor so i also thought it was hillarious 5 stars
3/27/04 HorrorScribbler You are who you eat. Jake Weber rocks. Good, but "28 Days Later" better. 4 stars
3/26/04 ROY L. CAIN,JR. Far better than the original, with the ugliest baby I ever seen! 5 stars
3/26/04 rojo The original still has more magic, but the remake takes no prisoners. 4 stars
3/26/04 Melissa Gaugert Sucked big time! 2 stars
3/26/04 Michael Great film. Delivers what it promises and well balanced, unlike 28 Days Later. To be owned. 5 stars
3/26/04 The Ripper What 28 Days Later claimed it was: the horror flick I've been waiting my whole life for. 5 stars
3/25/04 cinkcool It ruled. 5 stars
3/25/04 Priest Good flick, i'll pay to see it again 4 stars
3/25/04 Heather Robosn Taken apart from the original it is an entertaining film, but it lacks a moral heart. 3 stars
3/25/04 greensweater '28 Days Later' was better, but still rocked 5 stars
3/25/04 Mike It's too bad there is't a lower rating for this absolute FAILURE. 1 stars
3/24/04 Mark as good as the original and in ways better 4 stars
3/24/04 deadtoyou kick ass film, everyone should see and bring their kids too!!!! 5 stars
3/24/04 Dave Fox Mad Props to James Gunn , but i'm a wee bit retarded and didn't stay for the credits, what? 5 stars
3/24/04 Meg Worst movie I have ever seen! I was ready to go before the opening credits started 1 stars
3/23/04 f 11 That movie ruled! Bad ass opening scene 5 stars
3/23/04 sikrik not even close to the brilliance of the original 4 stars
3/23/04 luke it was allright i liked the one in '78 better 4 stars
3/22/04 Ryan Wilson Excellent movie! 5 stars
3/22/04 true review way better than the original because the original sucked, best remake in the last 10 years 4 stars
3/22/04 Morally Sound The only worthy 'remake' I have ever seen! Awesome! 5 stars
3/22/04 coco dumb 1 stars
3/22/04 maxomai Fun, satisfying flick. Not 28 days. Stay through the credits! :) 5 stars
3/22/04 Heaven'sJustice Like an overhaul on the original, same good design, just better and newer parts! 5 stars
3/22/04 Caiphn Complete suprise, a must see. 5 stars
3/21/04 AfroFett F*** Resident Evil! 4 stars
3/21/04 graham cosh a must see! equal to but different from the original.can`t wait 4 dvd! 5 stars
3/21/04 Lust4DetH DoTD + 28DaysLater only decent horror in 200x 5 stars
3/21/04 michael keller this movie was awesome, so much fun. 5 stars
3/21/04 y2mckay Better than the original, Eric? Come on now, Son . . . 4 stars
3/21/04 nick2k wowzas! it was grrrreat. was kinda false advertising to sell as a 'remake' though. 5 stars
3/21/04 Morally Sound The original is still the best horror movie of all time. James Gunn's remake kicks ass too. 5 stars
3/21/04 Zophael great flick....non stop action....love the ending 5 stars
3/20/04 john good actors but no charchter development - no creepy atmosphere and bad video game action 2 stars
3/20/04 L.H. Oswald Love the original, love the remake! 5 stars
3/20/04 allan smith Pretty weak. Looked like a video game. celebrity sniping was fun. 2 stars
3/20/04 Michelle Bell Should have just made a sequel, not a remake of the greatest film ever made. 3 stars
3/20/04 True Grit This movie was only average. Original better. And Night of th.. remains untouched. 3 stars
3/20/04 Dustin Loomis an all around great zombie flick 5 stars
3/20/04 Dan hella pimp tite! 5 stars
3/20/04 Carver S. saw it last night and LOVED it..the sniper on the roof was sweet 5 stars
3/20/04 movieguy a great film 5 stars
3/19/04 vagile They got it right. 5 stars
3/19/04 los man The old ruff-around-the-edges splatter FX of old were somehow spookier; original's better 3 stars
3/19/04 Vicious Excellent horror film. 5 stars
3/19/04 Mike Great Movie!!Started right away and doesnt let up til the end...stay for the credits!!! 5 stars
3/19/04 CLS Very good remake--true to the original form. Marred by a bad ending. 4 stars
3/19/04 Graham Alright, but... is it so hard to write an original zombie film, and not rehash a classic? 3 stars
3/19/04 mason if the original wasn't the greatest film ever made this might have worked 2 stars
3/19/04 Maria Harrison the movie was boring, it dragged, and to be blunt it was horrible 2 stars
3/19/04 jpbeck This was a very tastey movie 5 stars
3/18/04 shanaynay I loved it! It scared the lights outta me! 5 stars
3/18/04 steve kick-ass movie 5 stars
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  19-Mar-2004 (R)
  DVD: 26-Oct-2004



Directed by
  Zack Snyder

Written by
  James Gunn

  Sarah Polley
  Ving Rhames
  Mekhi Phifer
  Michael Barry
  Lindy Booth
  Ty Burrell

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