March 19, 2018
Time for more zombie movie madness! Today’s retrospective is on 2004’s “Dawn of the Dead”.
The general plot is that zombies start springing up everywhere. Possibly as a sequel to “Night of the Living Dead”. A mismatched group of survivors take refuge in a shopping mall. (The internal-access kind, not the strip-malls that are now common.) Even in the relative safety of the mall, the survivors start suffering problems, and so the action continues there. The social commentary is a little less focused on consumerism and the habits involved with it, as with the 1978 original. However, that should be expected, as Shopping Malls, as fun as they may be, no longer hold as much space in the public zeitgeist as in 1978.
This movie continues the odd horror movie trend of presenting us with a group of regular, every-day people, but just slightly more cynical and rude. I’m not sure I understand why horror movies like to make their non-horror characters hateful. I suppose it is so that the audience will not be upset when the unleashed horrors murder one’s favorite character. On the other hand, I would think that making lovable characters, and then threatening them would further involve the audience in the proceedings and give them a story arc and actual feelings when deaths occur. What do I know? Kill off these random bunches of people that I wouldn’t care about anyway. It’s all about the horror of it all.
One of my favorite characters, a fellow who is not very hateful at all, is a loving, caring father, played by Matt Frewer. I liked him. As Matt Frewer has aged, he has had to play deeper, more nuanced characters. I think that’s terrific, and it makes me care about his characters. Don’t get me wrong. I still miss Max Headroom, but these new characters are great. Good job, Matt!
There are a number of intense highlights in this movie’s plot. Of course, you have the initial infection. Then you have the mall move-in. Then there is an attempted eviction that turns into an arrest situation. Then there is an event that introduces new people to the group. Then there is a family moment. Then there is the adjustment to Mall Living. Then there is another family moment. Then there is a daring rescue attempt. Then there is a daring escape attempt. And another one. And another one. And another one. The movie has these wonderful “beats” along the story that keep you involved.
It’s a fun, scary movie. I wish the characters were more reasonable and therefore more relate-able.
For me, this movie is one sharpened wood stick out of two. Despite having it in my collection, ready to watch, I feel no compulsion to re-watch it again.