Dawn of the Dead starts off like most every other zombie movie: some sort of virus is turning people into flesh crazed maniacs and a small band of people must survive. Sounds like the average zombie movie, right? But Dawn of the Dead isn’t just a movie about zombies. It’s a movie about people and the choices that they make. Where so many other zombie movies go wrong by focusing solely on action with the zombies, Dawn of the Dead cares about the characters first and foremost. And because of this, Dawn of the Dead becomes a movie that will be remembered for a long, long time.
Loosely based off of the original Dawn of the Dead by George Romero, Dawn of the Dead (2004) follows a group of survivors living in a shopping mall during the zombie apocalypse. At first, many of the characters and their actions are stereotypical: the hardened mall cop, a compassionate father, and a teenager girl who makes some truly awful decisions. But by the end of the movie you end up truly caring about the fates of these characters. When a father watches his zombie wife give birth to his zombie baby, you feel legitimate sadness. Or when the survivor on the building next to them starts running out of food, you can understand why they want to help him. Dawn of the Dead excels at characterization. It gives you a reason to root for the characters and hope they succeed at surviving and leaving the mall.
Not only does this movie succeed at great characterization, there are also plenty of excellent action sequences. A stand out is the search and rescue mission when a food delivery goes awry. A very clever plan to use a dog to deliver food to a hungry survivor turns into all out chaos as the teenage girl completely disrupts the plan. Another stand out sequence is the final getaway. Using a hilariously awesome van of destruction to leave the mall isn't a scene that is easy to forget, as is the accident that involves a chainsaw and some good old fashioned decapitation.
Whatever you think of zombie movies, Dawn of the Dead isn't a movie that you should miss. Filled with characters that can actually be cared about, some excellent acting, and some incredibly memorable action sequences, this is a movie that deserves everybody’s attention.
What do you guys think? Does Dawn of the Dead make your list? Any of Romero's zombie classics?