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Film / Dawn of the Dead (2004)

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"When there is no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth."

A 2004 remake of the 1978 zombie classic starring Ving Rhames and Sarah Polley, directed by Zack Snyder, and written by James Gunn. The film is generally considered to be on-par with the original, despite some heavy differences.

Ana, a Milwaukee nurse, finishes a long shift at her hospital where — along with other bits of Foreshadowing — she discusses a patient who was bitten in a bar fight. After work, she chats briefly with a cute neighbor child, then returns to her suburban home and her waiting husband. The next morning, she wakes up to find her zombified young neighbor in her house; the girl kills her husband, who then rises a zombie and comes after Ana. Ana escapes in her car, only to learn that, overnight, the town has fallen into chaos. A living human attempts to carjack her vehicle, causing her to panic, drive off the road, crash into a tree, and knock herself unconscious. When she awakens, she meets up with a police officer by the name of Kenneth, and then a small group of survivors more-or-less led by jack-of-all-trades Michael. They all break into a nearby shopping mall, where they are confronted by a trio of mall security guards, led by the surly C.J. Via binoculars and dry-erase boards, they also "meet" gun-store owner Andy, who is stranded alone in his shop across the mall's zombie-infested parking lot. The guards are eventually disarmed, and some more survivors are let into the mall. For a while, the group wallows in the mall's materialism, but the situation finally deteriorates to the point where the group decides to reinforce a pair of parking shuttles, drive to the local marina and escape out to an island on Lake Michigan.


Provides Examples Of:

  • Aborted Arc: After establishing that infected blood is the culprit in turning people into zombies, Ana is clearly seen washing infected blood off of her hands in a mall water feature. Later, Kenneth falls into this water, and the movie even makes a point of emphasizing an injury to Kenneth that cuts open his arm in the infected water. Despite this, nothing further comes of this incident and Kenneth does not turn into a zombie.
    • This actually might be a remnant of the original script for the remake, where the zombie plague would have had supernatural origins rather than virological ones. The scenes mentioned above would have been fitting as evidence of dismissing it as a virus and open up for other possibilities behind the zombie plague.
  • Action Girl: Ana manages to get very far and kicks more zombie butt than the rest of the females in the group (and some of the men as well).
  • Apocalyptic Log: Andy's video diary and the news report from the DVD Bonus Content.
  • Asshole Victim: Steve for being a cowardly, callous and constant snarker to the end.
  • A-Team Montage: The reinforcement of the shuttle buses.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: Ana's zombified husband Lewis does this through the bathroom door at one point.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: How Ana initially escapes from Lewis.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: The remaining survivors escape on Steve's yacht. However, all the other characters are dead and Michael is forced to kill himself after being bit.
  • Bolivian Army Ending:
    • The survivors take Steve's yacht and leave, but the credits reveal that, as soon as they hit the island, a massive horde of zombies bear down on them - and all they've got are some shotguns.
    • "We Interrupt This Program" ends with the anchorman tearfully telling his family on air he was coming home before the news cut to EAS broadcasting. Taking to consideration how the streets have become over-ridden with reanimates, it is left ambiguous if he will make it home at all, much less if his family would still have been at home or even alive to have seen the broadcast.
  • Boom, Headshot!: A surefire way to kill zombies is to shoot them in the head.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Nicole, after her father dies.
    • Possibly Ana as well after the death of her husband and especially after the death of her love interest Michael.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Bart the security guard is a light example.
  • Chainsaw Good: Subverted in the breakout, where they're used to saw the legs off of zombies climbing on the buses, but the bus takes a hit, and it sends the chainsaws barreling into the other survivors. The resulting bloodspray makes the bus crash.
  • Combat Medic: Ana, an RN, is able to kick ass and survive until the end (and possibly beyond it, given the ambiguity of the ending).
  • Cosy Catastrophe: Like in the original, the survivors hunker down in the mall and get comfortable for a while.
  • Crazy Survivalist
  • Creator Cameo: Zack Snyder appears in the opening titles, playing one of the mercenaries who protect the evacuation of the Capitol with machine guns.
  • Damsel in Distress: Subverted with Ana, who definitely holds her own compared to the other females.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Steve, on top of being a Jerkass.
    Kenneth: *referring to Fort Pastor* Is everyone there dead?
    Steve: Well, dead-ish.
    Kenneth: everyone there dead?!
    Steve: Well, they were dead... and then they got back up... and started eating each other.
    C.J.: How do you know that [the people in the truck] aren't all fucked up like them?
    Ana: Well, for one thing, they're driving a truck. (they all hear gunshots coming from the truck, offscreen) Oh, and shooting guns.
  • Death by Ambulance: The heroine's gun-toting neighbor is run down by a passing ambulance.
  • Death by Irony: C.J. says about midway through the film, "I'll kill each and every one of you to stay alive." Guess who ends up committing a Heroic Sacrifice?
    • In the beginning of the film, one of Ana's neighbors is shown standing in the middle of the street with a gun pointed at her after narrowly escaping her infected husband. Said neighbor gets run over by an ambulance before he can shoot her.
    • Also, Michael was pretty dead set on killing the infected Frank before he turned. It's simultaneously ironic, impressive and heartbreaking when he reveals his own infection, says goodbye to Anna, and sets the others off in the boat before shooting himself in the head.
    • Also, Andre's death eerily mirrors the conversation where he tells Kenneth that his purpose was to bring his child into the world. Err... mission accomplished?
  • Death by Pragmatism: C.J. is a jerk, but his original plan to stay firmly buttoned up inside the mall was much safer. He finally executes a Heel–Face Turn and goes along with a escape plan. Good idea, since the lack of power and increasing number of zombies was getting a bit big.
  • Death by Sex: Luis, Monica, and Steve. Averted with Ana, who is one of the survivors.
  • Demoted to Extra: Most of Monica's scenes and lines were cut or trimmed. They don't even mention her name in the final cut! Both director Zack Snyder and producer Eric Newman have lamented this, as they have nothing but praise for the way the actress portrayed the character.
  • Downer Beginning: The zombies literally come bursting into the heroine's bedroom within ten minutes of the start of the film, her neighbor's daughter and her husband are the first victims and then become attackers.
  • Downer Ending: Andy’s "Lost Tape" featurette concludes with him becoming zombified after spending the majority of the short holding up in his gun shop, only to get bitten while attempting to recover supplies. Kenneth ends up decapitating his short lived companion with a shot gun blast in the film
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: The muzak playing in the elevator is a rendition of "All Out Of Love", not "The Girl from Ipanema".
  • Emergency Presidential Address: In the news report-style DVD Bonus Content, the ongoing media coverage temporarily switches to an announcement from the White House press office, wherein the press secretary confirms that an unknown virus is causing people to rise from the dead, the President has been moved to a secure facility, and then turns the podium over to the Secretary of Defense who declares that martial law is in effect for the United States.
  • Escape Convenient Boat: The remaining survivors use Steve's yacht to escape the city.
  • Face-Revealing Turn
  • Fate Worse than Death: One of the characters says that waiting for the zombies to attack would be this.
  • Fetus Terrible: A baby is born already zombified.
  • Foreshadowing: Quite a few:
    • Tucker was noted as having a gimped foot, which nips him in the bud when he falls through a manhole and breaks his leg.
    • Steve taunted Ana by giving her the go-ahead to shoot him if he ever turned. She gladly obliges when he does.
    • The destruction of Fort Pastor is hinted at early on, when news footage from the base clearly shows several infectees (victims sporting bite wounds and other mutilations) being brought in via truck.
  • Friendly Sniper: Andy in the film, though we only see him personally in his video log, included as a DVD extra.
  • The Fundamentalist: The televangelist, who blames the zombie apocalypse on America's sinfulness (read: tolerating pre-maritial sex, abortion, homosexuality and homosexual marriage). He's played by Ken Foree, and gets to utter his famous line from the original.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The ones that make it to the boat are two guys and two girls respectively.
  • The Generic Guy: Terry the security guard.
  • Gorn
  • Gun Porn: There are many, many closeups of gun barrels, clips, and shell casings.
  • Guns Akimbo: Tucker, after he breaks his leg in the sewer. Not like he has much of a choice, and he gets leaped upon when he has to reload.
  • Hate Sink: Steve. He is the only survivor to maintain dickishness from the very first second he's introduced until the moment he becomes a zombie and gets blown away. The mission to get Nicole had him do just one thing: keep close to the damn door to the sewer and open it for the guys that were surely going to be racing ahead of the zombie horde. He leaves to go get some coffee and thus when the rest come back nothing can be done but allow the zombies to overrun the mall. He even says a sarcastic "what took you so long, fellas?" once he sees them after Ana opens after the rest were banging on the door and doing a Mexican Standoff with the friggin' zombies for a couple of minutes.
  • Hero of Another Story: Lots, many of them seen only in news reports from deleted scenes on the DVD. Special nod goes to Sheriff Cahill and the survivalist and his crew who make an instructional video on how to kill zombies.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: C.J. stays behind to draw away the zombies and detonate the buses to kill a good number of them.
  • A House Divided: Inverted. The characters start off at each other's throats but seem to grow closer as they spend more time in the mall. They're arguably Fire-Forged Friends by the end. The mall still gets overrun in the final act because Steve decided to go fetch some coffee and not do his role in the plan to save Nicole just to be a dick.
  • Idiot Ball: Nicole. Going after her dog nearly screwed the entire rescue.
  • Ignored Vital News Reports: Ana does this with her car radio on the way home from work. Later she and her husband miss a TV report while taking a Shower of Love.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • Even the untrained civilians are able to headshot running targets with amazing accuracy, often while running themselves, wounded, in the dark.
    • Although justified with Andy; he's a gun-shop owner, using a high-powered sniper rifle, shooting from a secure and elevated location.
  • Infernal Retaliation: Fire/explosives are used against zombies several times in the movie; in one case it works because the people burning them are safely behind a fence, attacked by surprise, etc.
  • Irony: A meta example with regards to the ending. The original was supposed to end with the characters committing suicide out of hopelessness, but got changed to a more positive one during production. The remake was going to end with a positive ending but got changed to a more negative one due to test screening reactions.
  • It Can Think: It's heavily implied, if not outright confirmed, in one scene as when the zombies are chasing the survivors up the staircase, they stop and try to find a way around Kenneth, who's holding them at gunpoint. They only resume the charge when they find no alternate route. When Andy dies and turns from his bite, he even rushes to the roof to try and communicate, despite only scrawling gibberish.
  • The Jaywalking Dead: Their heavily outfitted buses are surprisingly less effective becauae the horde outside of the mall is a literal human wave by the time they try to push through. In the end, a bomb is required to thin the herd enough to accomplish it.
  • Jerkass
    • Steve maintains this right up to the moment he gets zombified and has a bullet planted in his brain.
    • Bart and Monica also qualify.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: C.J. is a classic example, starting off as an abrasive dick before learning to work with and trust others.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: Within ten seconds of meeting him, the audience knows that Steve is going to end up screwing everyone over and wonder why none of the characters save themselves some hassle by just shooting him or kicking him off the damn roof?
    • Although it's clear by her tone that Ana definitely is tempted.
  • Kill ’Em All: The credits scene has a horde of zombies rush toward the final three survivors, and only one is armed. It's left ambiguous.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: C.J.'s classic summing-up of the shuttle-bus "escape" plan.
  • Lingerie Scene: Monica models black lingerie for herself in a brief clip.
  • The Load:
    • Nicole... she has no combat skills and her actions endanger the group a few times.
    • Steve's only real usefulness to the crew is that he owns a boat. Aside from that, absolutely nothing, really.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Richard Cheese's cover of Disturbed's "Down With The Sickness".
  • I Love the Dead: Part of the emergency broadcast shown on the DVD showed a bunch of teenagers who had kidnapped a recently zombified hot girl from their school and tied her to a bed so they could have sex with her. Even if they weren't bitten in the process, chances are still likely they'd be infected anyway.
  • The Mall
  • Meaningful Background Event: Whatever's on the TV.
  • The Medic: Ana, which is a given since she is a nurse. She's also a rare example of this being the protagonist too.
  • Mutual Kill: Norma is killed by Andre, but she manages to get in a few shots before dying.
  • Mythology Gag: Ken Foree, who played Peter in the original, makes an appearance as a televangelist, and repeats Peter's infamous line word for word. See the page quote.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The infectious agent that’s causing the dead to reanimate and eat the living is implied in some scenes and in Gunn’s script to be supernatural in origin, such as Kenneth not getting sick even after he fell in a water fountain, was wounded at the time and after Ana was washing her blood-covered hands in said fountain. However, it’s for the most part ambiguous, as there are also implications of the disease indeed being a reanimating pathogen after all and he might have simply got very lucky.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Downplayed with Norma but she did answer a call to rescue a church full of survivors and drive them to the mall. She also dispatches Andre and Luda, and despite getting shot first, lives just a little longer than Andre.
  • Nice Guy: Michael and Terry.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: The security guards. Terry is Nice, Bart is Mean and C.J. is In-Between.
  • Nobody Over Fifty Is Gay: Averted with Glen; he states his sexual orientation in the extended version.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Steve, Kenneth, and Andy shoot zombified versions of Jay Leno and Burt Reynolds.
    Steve: Rosie O'Donnell! Tell him to get Rosie!
    Kenneth: Oh yeah, Rosie!
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The fictional Fort Pastor stands in for the real Fort McCoy, Wisconsin's only military base.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The word "zombie" is never said, except for three instances in the news report special feature on the DVD.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't:
    Kenneth: You ever use one of those things?
    Michael: [holding a shotgun] This is the dangerous end, right?
    [Kenneth reaches over, *click*]
    Kenneth: Now it is.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The zombies in this version not only overwhelm victims through sheer numbers, they are capable of running and jumping with no sign of exhaustion, and once they target a living person, they will attack and keep up the pursuit until they or their target are dead, making them much more dangerous than the shambling zombies of the original.
  • Power of Trust: C.J. is more compelled to cooperate with the other survivors after reading some magazine articles while locked up.
    Trust. The primary ingredient in any relationship.
  • Regret Eating Me
  • Remake Cameo: Ken Foree (Peter from the original), Scott Reiniger (Roger) and Tom Savini (Blades) all have cameos in the remake, playing, respectively, a televangelist, a general and a sheriff who appear on the TV. Gaylen Ross (Francine) doesn't appear in the remake, but she gets one of the department stores named after her.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: Used when igniting the gasoline.
  • Rule of Scary: The reason why the cause of the zombie outbreak is never given.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Seems to be the only way of killing these zombies, although destroying the brain seems to be the only way as the group find a snarling severed head in a box on their escape boat.
  • Russian Woman Suffers Most: Luda is infected, but Andre hides it from the others, denying her the chance for a mercy kill. After she dies and turns, she gives birth to a Zombaby.
  • Scenery Censor: A bizarre example is present on the US Director's Cut DVD, where a scene is censored by the addition of gore to cover up nudity. CGI blood smears on the wind shield of a car were added so that they obscure the view on the breasts of a nude woman walking past the car. This is especially bizarre since the DVD in question is unrated and features at least one other topless scene, which remained uncensored.
  • Secret Stab Wound: Andre hid the fact that his wife was zombie bitten.
  • Sequel Hook: Featured, though a sequel now seems unlikely. The remake of Day of the Dead (2008) is not a sequel despite the return of Ving Rhames in a different role, which seems to be the case for most of the Romero movies.
  • Shout-Out: Contains numerous nods to the original versions of both Night and Dawn, along with a couple of subtle references to the siege of the Alamo.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: C.J., who can barely go a sentence without saying the F word.
  • The Stinger: Footage was belatedly added to the closing credits.
  • Straight Gay: Glen. In the theatrical version, the only hint that he is gay is him trying on shoes during the montage of time passing in the mall, although the directors cut includes a scene where it's outright stated.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: There are multiple instances involving the Mall's muzak.
    • The first is "Don't Worry, Be Happy", which plays when the survivors enter the mall just barely escaping the undead.
    • The second is "All By Myself", which plays as the survivors split up to check if the mall is secure.
    • The third is "You Light Up My Life", which is played when the mall's timers power up in the morning.
    • The fourth is "What The World Needs Now Is Love", playing when all the survivors are at the dinner table discussing their romances.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Ana is the Wife - the sensible nurse, Nicole is the Child - the reckless teenager, and Monica is the Seductress - she's a Ms. Fanservice and is the only woman seen having sex in the mall.
  • The Dead Have Eyes: The infected’s eyes seem to be for the most part unchanged by the reanimation process with a few exceptions, at least until they degrade to a certain extent. This gets really into the Uncanny Valley as aside from the bloodstains, visible mortal wounds and murderous cannibalistic rage you would be hard pressed to find signs that they’re bona fide living corpses.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Ana tends to just stare at chaos happening around her rather than evacuating.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Nicole is so worried about her dog that she somehow hijacks a truck and crashes it into the building he's in, only to be trapped by zombies. Made even more stupid as it's even pointed out to her that the zombies are only interested in eating human flesh and we even see them completely ignore the dog! In this case it's an aversion, as Nicole lives to the end of the movie, albeit at the expense of multiple other lives.
    • Whose idea was it to let infected people into Fort Pastor? Even when it was annoyingly clear by that stage that bites turn people into zombies?
    • In the Emergency Broadcast shown on the DVD, we see some teens risk infection by tying up a zombie girl to have sex with, as well as one moron get his throat ripped out when a cage match against a zombie goes as horribly wrong as you'd expect.
    • Whose bright idea was it to use chainsaws in a moving vehicle, a high speed moving one at that? Answer  Yeah, it was to knock off any zombie stragglers. But there were dozens of other effective methods that would've knocked them off quickly and been less dangerous. Admittedly,
    • The group never once thought to share crucial information about the zombies with Andy, not even when performing the risky move with the dog.
  • Undead Child:
    • The very first zombie we see is a little girl. More specifically, Ana’s neighbour, Vivian.
    • Luda is pregnant when she's bitten by a zombie. After she finally turns she gives birth to a zombie baby.
  • Wealthy Yacht Owner: Steve is one. The survivors use his yacht to escape in the end.
  • Wham Shot: For viewers used to the shuffling zombies of George Romero's original trilogy - and who avoided the trailers for this film - seeing these zombies run at full speed might be this trope. For everyone else, it's the horrifying Scenery Gorn Ana sees when she escapes her house.
  • While Rome Burns: The time-passing montage, just like in the original.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Most zombies, but notably Andy's death.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Oh, do tell.
  • Zombie Gait: Averted with zombies who sprint when chasing their prey. Later played straight because the more decayed ones eventually slow down due to their decomposition.
  • Zombie Infectee: Semi-averted. Michael does not bother to hide their wounds, and the two bite-victims that arrive in the truck can't. Played straight with Luda.


Example of: