Thursday, October 27, 2011

When There's No More Original Ideas, the Remakes Shall Walk The Earth

Unlike the original, which really plunges the viewer into the zombie crisis right away, the remake gives off a false sense of calm first. Our heroine, Ana, suffers through her dull hospital shift, goes home, spends time with her husband, and goes to sleep. Only faint hints of an ongoing outbreak are given, before her peaceful tranquility is horrifyingly shattered by the neighborhood girl. Who just happens to have been turned into a nasty, fast and hungry zombie out for human flesh. Quickly, without mercy, the film jumps into pure chaos. The opening credits set to Johnny Cash's apocalyptic track "When The Man Comes Around" are chilling, and only add to the film's overall grim atmosphere.

Zach Snyder smartly realizes that he cannot best the original, so him and writer James Gunn choose to leave their own stamp on the zombie subgenre instead. Plenty of gore is featured, and the undead's rotting corpses are both disgusting and unpleasant to look at. It helps this movie that it received a higher budget than George A. Romero's 1978 classic had, and even though faster zombies may be more unrealistic they are scarier than slow zombies, despite slow zombies being creepier. This film maybe could have benefitted from an original score, yet Synder's musical choices are actually fairly inspired, which only illustrates how music can set a horror movie's mood.

Despite having a cast that is too large, most of the characters stand out, even though only a few really evolve over the course of the movie. CJ is an asshole that ends up setting aside his own selfish plans for the betterment of the group, even aiding in the rescue of a man from a gunshop. Jake Weber's sympthatic everyman is one of the film's most likable characters, and Ving Rhames is a great homage to Ken Foree's Peter from the original. What's also notable is that Sarah Polly is given a really strong female role to play, as not too many horror movies feature those.

Some week CGI aside and a few lesser moments that don't quite pan out, this is a really good, tightly wound and paced remake that is mostly relentless. While I'm not a fan of the movie's true ending (featured over the end credits), this is one of the better 2000s horror movie releases. Its kind of a shame that Snyder hasn't made a horror movie since, although Gunn went on to direct and write the great, gross, and funny horror film Slither two years later.

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