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Movie Review: Dawn of the Dead

Alternate Title: Killing Time at the Mall

Lobo Note: On rare occasions 'Guest Reviews' appear on this page. A previous Lobo Oscar contest winner (Nicole Greevy) and her fiancee Todd (both of whom are film aficionados) suggested that they review Dawn of the Dead since they rightly assumed I would NEVER see this film. And so, for your reading and chuckling pleasure....

Story: As marauding zombies attack humans and turn them into the walking dead, a ragtag but highly photogenic band of survivors hunkers down in a Milwaukee shopping mall.

This film is a re-imagining (not our word) of a much-beloved cult classic, but only the basic concept remains the same. The script is surprisingly tight, and the director pulls off this scream-fest with panache.

As horror films go, it's pretty darn good. These zombies don't shamble; they run. Very fast (apparently it's no longer enough for there just to be a bajillion of them). Plenty of good jumps and squirms. And, of course, some pretty people do stupid things (a horror film requirement).

Acting: Far better than you'd expect from a zombie film. Indie-film darling Sarah Polley heads a cast that includes Mekhi Phifer and Ving Rhames (who carries the film, in Todd's opinion). Many horror-film stereotypes are represented, and a few are actually subverted.

Predilection: We love horror films. Which is not to say we don't think most of them are crap.

Critters: A dog, who figures prominently. Are zombies critters?

Food: Wine, coffee... lots of fluids-- they spend a lot of time at a Starbucks knock-off. Something covered in maggots at the end. And human flesh, which IS food if you're a zombie.

Visual Art: Not that we remember.

Blatant Product Placement: None we remember, so nothing blatant. Sponsors probably didn't see commercial value in being associated with the end of the world.

Soundtrack: Dark, lots of crunchiness and thudding. Worked very well for the film's sense of impending doom. And some very funny mall music choices (Don't Worry, Be Happy, anyone?).

Opening Titles:The breakdown of society due to the unexplained zombie onslaught is shown during the titles. Very effectively gets to the thrust of the story without wasting time explaining how and why. Who cares? Zombies are eating people!

Theater Audience: Us and a freaky old guy (it was 3PM on a Monday).

Sappy Factor: One of the characters is awfully sappy about that damn dog. And Nicole was kind of bummed when a couple characters she sort of liked were killed off.

Quirky Meter:We wouldn't call it quirky.

Squirm Scale:

Predictability Level: Less than you'd think. We weren't able to accurately predict who would be killed off next. For a horror film, that's pretty good (of course, there were lots of extra characters to throw you off on the body count).

Tissue Usage: No, but Nicole made good use of her hands to cover her eyes.

Oscar Worthy: Ehhh.... no.

Nit Picking: The power goes off in the mall and a scary, unsuccessful attempt is made to turn it back on. And then later the power seems to be back.Maybe a friendly zombie turned it back on? It's sometimes unclear if a character has been bitten by a zombie or not. Being bitten, by the way, is very, very, very bad.

Big Screen or Rental: If this is your kind of thing, it's more fun on the big screen. If it's not, you're not going to see it either way, so it doesn't matter. But, for our fellow horror buffs, the original Dawn of the Dead is less scary, but far creepier-- and quite satiric in its skewering of consumer culture. We missed that social commentary in this otherwise fine remake-- s'cuse us, re-imagining. And of course, the grand old daddy Night of the Living Dead still scares the bejeesus out of us both. For another fast zombie film, there's 28 Days Later. For Sarah Polley fans, check out Go and The Sweet Hereafter. For Ving Rhames, Pulp Fiction.

Length: 100 minutes.

LOBO HOWLS: For horror film fans, a solid 7. For anyone else, a 2 (both of those points going to Ving Rhames. Come on, everyone likes Ving Rhames!)