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Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Mar 25, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:A few nice talks, pretty suspenseful. Nice atmosphere in the mall.

Cons:No need to tie yourself down, it's pretty easy to get through.

The Bottom Line: Dawn of the Dead -- coming soon to DVD.


One of the the things I really liked about Scream was its commentary on the whole horror genre. Neve Campbell put it right in its place when she said "What's the difference? They're all the same, some deranged killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can't act who's always running up the stairs when she should be going out the front door. It's insulting."

Of course, there are variations on the theme -- different places for it to happen, different weapons used by the killer, and in the case of Dawn of the Dead, a different, er, number of killers. Still doesn't change the fact that they basically have no motive. And no motive equals boring in my book.

Despite having basically no interest at all in this movie, I had to get out of the house, and I had nowhere else to go. So I slapped down the money, walked in with the Counting Crows' "American Girls" stuck in my head, and sat in the middle of the theater for a change.

Dawn of the Dead is, as you might have heard, a remake of the old George Romero classic. And, you guessed it, I never saw it. After what I've been hearing, I sure want to now.

Judging by the first five minutes, this one could've been called American Beauty 2: Lester Strikes Back, but it's not long before the minions of Hell start taking over. All it takes is a bite to convert the good people into zombified hobbling starving purple people-eaters.

A small group of survivors get together and take refuge inside the Crossroads Mall. Not at all surprising is one of the mall's first impressions -- a Muzak rendition of Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy".

It's hard to believe so little could have happened in over an hour's time inside the mall. Among the more interesting things happening, there is a pregnant woman (very John Q-esque), a tall stocky cop who is worried about his brother and spends his time conversing via binoculars and Boone boards with a fellow trapped on the roof of his gun shop across the street, and a debate about whether or not to shoot a man who has been bitten but hasn't uh, died yet.

Then there are three mall security guards who are anything but accomodating. Oddly enough, our cluster of protagonists spend about as much time fighting with the security guards as they do the actual zombies. One of the guards, the "softest" of the three, develops a relationship with one of the girls in the mall. He sees her on the security cameras alone and crying, and next time you see them they are sitting together. I know this ain't "Days of Our Lives" or anything, but I would've liked to see how he consoled her.

Acting is no big deal, especially not when it becomes a chore to remember who's who. Sarah Polley "leads" the pack as Ana, a nurse. Jake Weber hams it down (if there is such a thing) as Michael. Ty Burrell plays Steve, the rich guy who seems to mess it up at the worst times (How perfect is that, Mom?). Ving Rhames probably leaves the biggest mark on your memory as Kenneth, the cop with the missing brother. It was kind of touching the way he tried to "replace" his brother with the guy on the roof across the street.

There are some fun moments that are awkwardly strung together all at once and set to a fifties-style rendition of "Down With The Sickness". I don't know whether it ends up looking more like a music video or a GAP commercial, but I'd be lying to say I didn't laugh at the song.

Three stars, three stars, three stars. Everything is three stars lately. There is not all that much to gain by watching Dawn of The Dead in a theater except for a better look at the decomposed faces and lovingly-shot artillery in action. Elsewhere, it's not half as scary as it looks.


Recommend this product? Yes

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