Plot: Ana (Sarah Polley) returns home from a normal shift at the hospital, then awakens to a world that has turned into utter chaos. A blood soaked child attacks her husband, who then turns into some kind of violent cannibal, but she manages to escape and drives off, as people die in horrific ways all around her. She manages to meet up with some other survivors, then as a group, they head to the local shopping mall to escape hordes of the undead. Along with some security guards and newly arrived survivors, Ana and her friends clean up the mall and make it a safe haven, with enough food and supplies to stay alive until help arrives. But when it becomes clear that help might never make it to them, they have some hard decisions to make. Do they risk their secure locale to try to make it to a better place or risk eventually running out of supplies, being left to perhaps an even more dire fate? And if they do choose to make a run for a new home, can they survive the flesh eating masses that wait outside?
Entertainment Value: Dawn of the Dead faced an uphill battle with horror fans, as it was not only a remake of the beloved George A. Romero zombie classic, but it also replaced the shambling hordes with fast moving, semi-intelligent zombies. Despite all that, the movie manages to be one of the rare worthwhile remakes, with a fun cast and buckets of blood splashed around. The narrative is still within a mall surrounded by zombies, but otherwise tells a new tale of survivors. A lot of the consumerism slant is removed here, in favor of kinetic action and dark humor, so clearly, this feels like a much different movie than the original. Sarah Polley leads an ensemble cast that also includes Ving Rhames, Ty Burrell, Matt Frewer, Michael Kelly, and numerous others, most of whom are given solid screen time. All these personalities stuck in a tense situation leads to some drama and the cast is more than up to that task. Polley is such a skilled actress, able to convey so much simply through her expressions, so she is easily the stand out in this lot. I know we’ve become used to cheap remakes that offer little, but Dawn of the Dead is one that comes through with a fun, blood drenched zombie tale that never fails to entertain. So even if you hate remakes and fast zombies, this one is worthwhile and features some great zombie thrills.
A few quick topless scenes, including some zombie jugs, but otherwise no nudity to speak of. But while it might lack copious nakedness, Dawn of the Dead brings some heat when it comes to the bloodshed. Although some weak CGI is seen from time to time, most of it happens outside the gore and that is great news. A wealth of zombie headshots uncork, spurting crimson all over, while of course the assorted zombie bites also ensure we can soak in ripping flesh and gushes of the red stuff. Also have a zombie birth, impalement, legs being shorn off, and of course, an epic chainsaw mishap that results in some simply spectacular bloodshed. I also want to mention how cool the zombies look in general, with great attention to detail in most cases and such a wide scope of colorful undead, very cool stuff. The dialogue is a blend of bitterness, desperation, and dysfunction, all woven through a dark humor filter. A few really memorable lines stand out, but also just a consistently solid stream of dialogue here. A lot of nods to the original as well, which should please fans. As far as craziness, this one mostly plays within the zombie rules, with a few offbeat moments thrown in. I love the “shoot the celebrity look-a-like” game the survivors play at one point, for example. So not a wild, off the beaten path approach, but some fun colorful moments sprinkled in.
Overall Insanity: 1/10