Monday, February 19, 2018

Day of the Dead (2008)

First, a little backstory on a personal level. The original Day of the Dead is one of my all-time favorite zombie films. It wasn't that it had a particularly strong plot or intriguing characters, but rather because of the tender loving care that was put into the practical special effects by Tom Savini and his team*. The original film really didn't have a high body count when compared to other living dead films, but it really made its kills count.

This new remake of "Day of the Dead" seemed to make it a point to have a higher body count than all of the original Romero zombie flicks combined. The problem is, when you replace a few well thought-out and spectacular deaths with hundreds of fast and sloppy computer-generated deaths, you end up with a bloody mess…and not in the good way.

Yes, I'm rather disappointed with this remake. To be frank, there were a few points during the film where I wondered if I had accidentally rented another 28 Days Later rip-off. This remake decided to do away with the classic unexplained zombie uprising in favor of a high-tech, fast-acting zombie plague that had the strong scent of the Rage Virus.

Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate updated zombie films giving their undead characters the gift of speed. However, granting them with the ability to also defy gravity is going a bit far. I knew the film was on the fast-track down the drain when a hyper zombie scuttled across the ceiling like some creature from Aliens . This was shortly followed by what amounted to the undead version of Cirque du Soleil with all sorts of silly acrobatics going on. I was waiting for them to just sprout wings.

I'm not a big fan of computer-generated FX to begin with, although recently I have developed an appreciation towards CG touch-ups on practical FX as a time-saver when executing difficult gags**. In my humble opinion, CG should be garnish, not the main course when it comes to horror FX. This movie was nothing but an all-you-can-eat CG buffet.

All this would have been forgivable if the film was not trying to be serious and gone along the path as such cheesy gems like Dead Alive or Evil Dead 2. Unfortunately, it carried the scent of a director trying very hard to scare the socks off its audience by way of timing and gore. The few and far between attempts at humor were mediocre at best.

My advice: Don't waste the 90 minutes unless you're a hardcore fan of games like House of the Dead, because this film has the exact same look and feel to it.

* If you want some truly horrifying stories, find Tom Savini's interview where he talks about the making of the original "Day of the Dead". Five words to gag by: "The refrigerator has been unplugged."

** I was a bit worried about a short film I recently worked on when I learned the editor was also looking to do some CG-FX work after I'd busted my tail on plotting out the practical effects. I can't tell you how relieved I was to learn that his philosophy was that good CG work doesn't look like there was any CG involved at all.

Film information: Day of the Dead

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