Gore Porn

Dawn of the Dead

The 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead is as derivative as you’d expect and still manages to be, surprisingly, pretty damned good. It takes the basic premise of the 1978 classic — survivors of a zombie apocalypse hole up in a shopping mall — strips away the social commentary, and jacks up the tempo, particularly with the speedy zombies that are all the rage these days. Outside of the premise, it barely resembles its primary forebear.

Still, director Zack Snyder and screenwriter James Gunn have crafted a brutally effective little terror film. The opening seems to have learned from Cronenberg’s The Brood with its zombified little girl; she’s still physically a child but clearly and creepily something inhuman. A pregnancy was also an element of Romero’s film, but here the woman has been bitten by the undead, so the audience is expectant and tense because of movies as different as Rosemary’s Baby, The Fly, and Alien. Most shockingly, the re-make is far more attentive to character than the original.

While this Dawn of the Dead is far too stylized, crass, cynical, and in-love with slow-mo, close-up gore-porn money shots to be anything lasting, it’s hard to hold those things against it.

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