Friday Night Frights: Dawn of the Dead (2004)

The horrors of the working week are over, time for a terrifying start to the weekend with Friday Night Frights. Tonight, the zombie apocalypse is upon us. Where’s the nearest mall!?

Dawn of the Dead Large

Words: Brody Rossiter
Twitter: @BrodyRossiter

DOWN WITH THE SICKNESS

I can’t remember which exact film it was – clearly is was one which carried a rating at odds with my date of birth – but in 2004 I found myself exposed to the trailer for Zack Synder’s high-octane remake of George A. Romero’s zombie classic, Dawn of the Dead. Suffice to say, the next few nights weren’t fun, and my young teen self deeply regretted foolishly spitting in the face of the BBFC. We have rules for a reason kids; mainly to protect us from the harrowing image of a lightning-quick zombie child eating her parents’ faces!

With everyone currently bitching about the latest Batman Vs Superman trailer – hopefully if you’re reading this in the future then my premonition that Batfleck did an awesome job teaching Supes not to devastate cities will have come to fruition and Synder is now recognised as the first auteur of superhero flicks – it’s the perfect time for us all to reanimate one of Snyder’s most successful (commercially and creatively) big screen offerings (small screen wise that Morrissey video is pretty good) and its mall full of cannibalistic terrors.

Dawn of the Dead will never be recognised as a subtle horror picture rich with slow-burning frights. There’s lots of death, destruction, shooting, stabbing and horrifying resurrections to gnaw upon – and it’s all rather thrilling despite its gory simplicity. The combination of wildly different characters brought together by the impending doom of the planet thanks to the massing zombie hordes, ensures the narrative is constantly striding forward toward new deadly threats. Whether making the perilous journey to restart the generator in the parking garage or being forced to put a group member out of their misery before they get all bitey, there’s lots of visceral fun to be had, and Snyder choreographs such set-pieces with an addictive sense of urgency – fostering a bloodlust in the viewer to match that of the snappy antagonists clawing at the doors and windows.

Before I leave you to either heed or completely ignore my viewing advice, here’s a couple of fun Dawn of the Dead observations: Phil Dunphy plays that dick who won’t shut up about his boat (in all seriousness, Ty Burrell has a lot of range as an actor but I’d rather he just be Modern Family’s comical patriarch forever) and House of Cards’ Michael Kelly, aka presidential aid and steadfast alcoholic Doug Stamper, portrays moustachioed, power hungry security guard, CJ.

Dawn of the Dead could easily be recognised as the most instantly gratifying and impactful contemporary zombie film out there. Yes, it spawned lots of mediocre action-horror in its wake, but when your heart begins pounding for all the right reasons, that unfortunate fact is easy to swallow. Hopefully Dawn of Justice will have the same engrossing effect minus the zombies.

Dawn of the Dead is widely available on a multitude of formats and platforms for your viewing pleasure horror fans.

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