Day of the Dead (2008) Review
Written by: TheFecalKid
In my opinion, Day of the Dead is the best zombie film ever made. There isn't even room for argument. It's not my favourite zombie movie, as Zombi 2 will always hold that place in my heart, but Day of the Dead is a far greater cinematic accomplishment, even for the master of the genre, Mr. Romero. So when I read that there was going to be a remake, or re-imagining, you can imagine that I was filled with complete disgust. Finding out that Steve Miner - best known for Friday the 13th II and III - was set to direct did help a little. Then a few months later the cast list and a few details about the film were released, and I lost all hope.
In a small "charming shit hole of a town", a flu-like outbreak causes much concern with the US government. They quarantine the town, cutting off its roads and phone lines in an attempt to squash the spread of the virus. Sarah Bowman (Mena Suvari) an officer in the US army is stationed in her hometown where with the help of Private Salazar (Nick Cannon), Private Cain (Stark Sands) and her brother Trevor (Michael Welch) she hordes everyone to the local hospital to try and get them some medical attention. After her superior officer (Ving Rhames) tells her this is not just an exercise and that "the shit is real", she is forced to step up and take control of the situation. This is easier said than done, as the infected townsfolk start dropping like flies and coming back to life as flesh eating zombies that terrorize the town.
I knew from the moment I heard about the remake that I would have difficulty enjoying it. It's been mocked and trashed on every horror site, and after finally sitting down to watch it, I completely understand why. If I love zombie movies and didn't even want to give this a chance, that's a pretty clear sign that something has gone horribly wrong. Taking his cues from Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, Miner went with the "fast zombies" for this one. This is compared to the original Dead films, in which the zombies moved at a snail's pace, and were basically just a nuisance until they gathered into large packs. Even though I prefer the traditional zombie, I'll admit that the speed does give them a terrifying new edge and makes things a lot more difficult for our little band of survivors. Unfortunately, Miner couldn't have just made them faster and called it a day. Mr. Ambitious had to go over the top with it. These "ninja" zombies can run faster than humans, crawl along the ceiling, jump over vehicles, and scale buildings. I give him credit for trying something new, but these are zombies.
As far as the "acting" goes, this movie could not have been worse. Ving Rhames, the only man who could have shined any ray of hope on this picture, had a brief cameo and was gone within the first third of the movie. So we're left with Mena Suvari who peaked with her role in American Beauty all of 10 years ago, Michael Welch, a kid my age who has about as much acting talent as I do, and Nick Cannon the hip, street-walking, jive-talking army boy. In a nutshell, it's 3 talentless actors portraying boring, cliched characters for the entire course of the movie.
In a movie like this, I can get tolerate some poor acting if there's an interesting storyline, or some interesting twist that will hold my attention even though I really don't want to be watching it in the first place. And like most other films before it, the poor acting is coupled with a poor script. It has some of the worst lines, bad decisions and lamest coincidences any writer could have come up with. If you're not big on spoilers, I suggest skipping the next few lines, but they're quite mild in the grand scheme of things. First of all, you're in a town infested with zombies, and someone runs by your window. Why would you ask "what was that?" You know what it is, it's a zombie. It's not a cat or a wind chime, it's a zombie. This happens more than once. Also, just because you see the silhouette of someone in a window, why do you think that it's the safest place to barricade yourself into. Zombies cast shadows too, believe it or not. One of my personal favourites is the people who open their doors to let people in, and then ask them if they're "one of them" while brandishing a weapon. Probably should have checked that before you let them in. And don't you just love when you're in the middle of the woods, in some abandoned house and you stumble upon all the answers to the outbreak of the virus? Very believable indeed. Oh, and did I mention one of the zombies was a vegetarian, and had the hots for one of the living characters? Only in this movie.
I know what you're thinking. Bad script, bad acting - the gore and special effects have to be the saving grace. Strike three. What little gore there was was everybody's favourite - CGI. It looked more like play dough being squeezed through a tube than actual blood. In all honesty, I've seen more realistic blood in video games. Most of the zombie effects and makeup were done with CGI as well, and the ones that weren't looked awful. Almost all of them looked identical, and if I were to compare them to anything, it would be Deadite Ash in Evil Dead II. The milky eyes, the enlarged brow and cheeks to give the eyes a sunken look, it was just terrible.
So there you have it, one of the lamest movies I've ever seen, and probably the leader for worst zombie movie ever. Perhaps if it didn't bear the title Day of the Dead it would have had a better shot with audiences, but when you try your hand on a classic and fail, it tends to be even worse for you. It's a shame that after all the hits Steve Miner's had in the past, he had to return to the movie biz with this massive failure. I should be killed for saying it, but I think I might have enjoyed Day of the Dead 2: Contagium just the same, if not more. This film receives my second 0/10, and I would not recommend this to a single person, zombie fanatic or not. This one didn't even work as a zombie-comedy, which is what I'm guessing the attempt was. It wasn't funny, it wasn't believable, and it was most certainly not enjoyable.