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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 in his feature debut, and written by James Gunn.

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 as 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.

Despite (or perhaps because of) some heavy differences from the original, many fans of George A. Romero find it to be a surprisingly good take on the material, and there are long-simmering debates among horror fans over which version is better.

Zack Snyder's later Netflix movie and franchise Army of the Dead is not related to this film, or any of the other Living Dead Series movies for that matter.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Aborted Arc: In a Deleted Scene, it's established 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 that, later, Kenneth falls into, 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 both been spread by infected blood AND would've had supernatural origins rather than virological ones. These two scenes would then have been fitting as evidence of dismissing it as a virus and open up for other possibilities behind the zombie plague.
  • Adaptational Badass: The zombies are a much bigger threat in this movie than in the original, and manages to basically end civilization overnight rather than over the course of weeks. They're faster, stronger and seem to retain slightly more intelligence than in the original Dawn, where that usually only applied to the recently turned.
  • Adapted Out: The biker gang from the original movie are nowhere to be seen, nor are there any equivalent antagonists that end up forcing the survivors to leave the mall.
  • All There in the Script:
    • The characters' last names are shown in the film's script.
    • Monica's name is only shown in the end credits; she is never mentioned by name.
  • An Arm and a Leg: While first breaking into the mall, the survivors spot a seemingly normal Asian man walking around the corner. He then turns around, revealing that he's actually a zombie with his left arm missing.
  • Attractive Zombie: One of the DVD extras is an in-universe news broadcast containing, among other things, a video of some high schoolers taunting a young female zombie wearing nothing but a football helmet and Black Bra and Panties. One of the guys can be heard saying "look at those melons" and that "she is the hottest girl in the school." They learn very quickly not to mess around with any kind of zombie.
    • A Deleted Scene in the film proper has a fully nude blonde woman walking past Anna's car in the highway, but it's unclear if she's a zombie, a Zombie Infectee, or just under shock.
  • Ax-Crazy: Andre completely loses his marbles after Luda dies and turns while in the middle of going into labour.
    • The zombies also manage to tread in this territory as well despite the usual behavioural traits, considering that their frenzied attacks and constant rage-filled screaming while doing so shows just how utterly The Virus has destroyed their minds.
  • Action Girl: Ana manages to get very far and kicks more zombie butt than the rest of the women 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. If his character traits weren't enough, his actions directly and indirecly lead to death of most of the group, him included.
  • A-Team Montage: The reinforcement of the shuttle buses.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Ana keeps picking hints and various clues on zombie behaviour or even how The Virus spreads. Her observations are always proven correct later on.
  • 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.
  • 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 he's infected. This becomes a Downer Ending with The Stinger revealing that Steve's island is also overun by zombies.
  • The Berserker: Although keeping up the hunt and shrugging off copious amounts of damage unless they suffer fatal brain trauma is part and parcel when it comes to the walking dead as a whole, these ones are especially notable considering they are also hyper-aggressive, fast, tenacious and violent, and as a result are much more of a serious threat to deal with.
  • Beware the Living: Heavily downplayed when compared with the original, but still present. Ana's neighbor holds her at gunpoint, another survivor tries to carjack her, and the nude woman wandering on the freeway is implied to be a rape victim. Otherwise averted, mainly because after the opening there are no other survivors except the main characters and Andy, or at least none that appear on screen.
  • 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. If you pay attention, numerous characters display Improbable Aiming Skills - no matter where and how they aim, they will land a headshot.
    • Played for some very dark laughs when the mall survivors and Andy play a sort of game, where they spot specific zombies in the crowd at the parking lot and Andy's task is to find them and show off his sniper skill, by picking them off with clean headshots.
    • Averted - but would have been deserved - during the climax of the film when Steve leaves a critical service door he was tasked with guarding locked and Kenneth, Michael, CJ, Terry, Nicole, and Chips locked outside with a bunch of zombies. When Ana finally opens the door for them, Michael initially puts a gun to her face before realizing it's her - it's entirely likely that Michael was planning on shooting Steve right then and there for his Lethally Stupid dereliction of duty.
  • 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. In a deleted scene, Terry also tries to hit on Ana, but comes out as clumsy dork instead.
  • 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, killing Glenn and Monica in the process.
  • Character Development: C.J. goes from Jerkass mall cop to working together with the others for survival. He keeps his dry wit.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: Played for Laughs with C.J. is reading a women's magazine about top ten qualities in a good relationship. Throw-away joke at first, he invokes the number one from the list, trust, when starting to work out with others.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In a deleted scene, Michael mentions as one of his many jobs being a snowplow driver. Three guesses who's driving the bus with the plow.
  • Combat Medic: Ana, a nurse, is able to kick ass and survive until the end (and possibly beyond it, given the ambiguity of the ending).
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: First day of the apocalypse is a total frenzy, with everyone shocked and in panic. Few weeks in? They are just having fun and playing games to kill time, because that's all that's left to do.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: Like in the original, the survivors hunker down in the mall and get comfortable - at least for a while.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Subverted. Andy is the closest thing to the trope, but he maintains his sanity and appears to be a joval fellow from what's shown. The DVD extra, containing his own video log, further cements him as a subversion.
  • Creator Cameo: Zack Snyder appears in the opening titles, playing one of the soldiers who protects the evacuation of the White House with machine guns.
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • Subverted with Ana, who definitely holds her own compared to the other women.
    • Played absolutely straight with Nicole, while rescuing her is part of the climax.
  • 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 in the opening sequence.
  • 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 Ana, 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 HeelĖFace Turn and goes along with an escape plan. Good idea, since the lack of power and increasing number of zombies were becoming serious problems.
  • 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.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Luda doesn't seem to realize just how bad the situation is, and insists they need to get to a hospital due to her pregnancy, even though just getting inside the mall nearly got them all killed, and leaving is out of the question.
  • Downer Beginning: The zombies literally come bursting into the heroine's bedroom within five minutes of the start of the film, her neighbor's daughter and her husband are the first victims and then become attackers.
  • Downer Ending: Andyís "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 shotgun blast in the film.
    • The movie itself has one. The survivors manage to escape to a secluded island... Only to find it's already overrun with zombies. Just as the horde advances on them, who have nowhere to run to, roll credits.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: Averted. The muzak playing in the elevator is a rendition of "All Out of Love", not "The Girl from Ipanema".
    C.J.: I like this song.
  • 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.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: When the survivors in the truck bring the news that Fort Pastor has been destroyed.
    • Terry practically says this trope by name when Bart expresses his regret over a missed one-night stand to hammer into his skull just how dire the situation is outside the mall.
    Terry: Bart, dude. Everybody's dead, man, alright? Your mom's dead, your brother's dead. That fat chick at Dairy Queen? Dead.
  • Escape Convenient Boat: The remaining survivors use Steve's yacht to escape the city.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: The credits scene has a horde of zombies rush toward the final three survivors, and only one is armed. It's left ambiguous if they survived, but that's also the last recording on their camera.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Once he knows he's screwed, C.J. doesn't fight back against zombies swarming all over him, scream or plea, but instead calmly performs a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • When Michael is bitten, he assists the group as long as he can, sets them offshore while admiring the sunrise before calmly euthanising himself via headshot.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: A handful of zombies early on are framed in this way. Also, in the final act, Andy gets this twice.
  • Fallout Shelter Fail: Security guards CJ, Bart, and Terry are using the mall as their own personal refuge where they can ride out the Zombie Apocalypse in comfort; after some early conflict, they are soon joined by Ana and several other survivors. Despite the growing horde of zombies outside, the mall provides the characters with enough food, shelter, and luxury to be illustrated in a Good-Times Montage. Unfortunately, with civilization still in free fall it's not long before power to the mall goes out, forcing the survivors to descend into the zombie-infested garage in an insanely risky attempt to start the mall's emergency generator. The fallout of this incident ultimately prompts the survivors to begin making plans to escape the mall and make a new shelter for themselves on one of the islands in the nearby lake...
  • 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.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: A quite literal case happens between Michael, C.J. and Kenneth, as they fight together a small horde of zombies and ultimately set them all ablaze.
  • Fleeing for the Fallout Shelter: Less than a few hours after the Zombie Apocalypse begins, Ana, Kenneth, and a few other survivors are left hurriedly searching for shelter after being caught out in the open. Fortunately, they happen upon a deserted shopping mall soon after, but they still have to get inside... and while they're getting a door open, prowling zombies happen to notice them, forcing the survivors to finish jimmying the door in record time before the worryingly swift zombies catch up with them.
  • 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. He's given a bit more characterisation in deleted scenes, but still remains on the orbit of this trope.
  • Gorn: The film opens with Ana fighting for her life against her zombiefied neighbour and husband, gushing blood like water sprinklers. And it only goes from there. If that wasn't enough, there are multiple Your Head A-Splode scenes.
  • Gun Porn: There are many, many closeups of gun barrels, clips, and shell casings.
  • Guns Akimbo: Played for some very, very dark laughs. Tucker, after he breaks his leg in the sewer, is dragged by C.J. and covers them both with firing at anything that comes close, until he gets leaped upon eventually.
  • 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 back 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 bus to wipe out a good number of them. Not out of choice, since his only way to escape was jammed, but knowing he's screwed, he goes out with a literal bang.
  • 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. Then she passes it to Steve, who royally screws up by not standing next to the crucial doors.
  • 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.
    • 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.Later C.J. throws a propane bomb into a crowd of zombies, one zombie picks it up and gives C.J. a Death Glare before attempting to throw it right back.
  • The Jaywalking Dead: Their heavily outfitted buses are surprisingly less effective because 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.
      • Despite her relationship with Steve, Monica is more of a Jerkass to One, as while she and Nicole don't seem to get along she chats pleasantly with the others a few times and does pull her weight.
  • 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.
  • The Leader: Ana and Michael often show leadership at various points, but neither ever takes the spot "officially".
  • Leader Wannabe: Initially, C.J. is trying to be the one calling the shots, but nobody sans Bart takes him seriously and he quickly ends up subdued and locked up by the rest of the group. Averted with Michael, who never aims for the position of leader, but is giving sound suggestions to people around and never makes them more than suggestions.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: C.J.'s classic summing-up of the shuttle-bus "escape" plan.
  • Lip Losses: The zombie apocalypse kicks off with Ana and Luis waking up to find the newly-zombified Vivian inside their house, standing in the bedroom doorway. As soon as she steps into the light, it's revealed that the girl is now sporting a massive bite wound across her upper and lower lips.
  • 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. Worse, him leaving the doors unguarded is what leads to a hasty, premature escape from the mall leads ultimately to few people dying, Steve included.
  • Look Both Ways: In the opening segment, Ana's gun-waving neighbor makes the mistake of standing in the street and gets clobbered by a speeding ambulance.
  • 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: The human protagonists take refuge here from the zombies, and come to enjoy it because of all the luxuries they can now have which they could never afford before. Kenneth even reasons that the zombies are trying to enter the mall because a subconsciousness in their minds is making them desire the material goods and lavish experiences of shopping, dining and water fountains inside the mall they used to enjoy back when they were alive, in a Call-Back to the original movie.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The infectious agent thatís causing the dead to reanimate and eat the living is implied in some scenes and in Gunnís script to be supernatural in origin. However, itís for the most part ambiguous, as there are also implications of the disease indeed being a reanimating pathogen. In the deleted scenes for the movie, it's stated that it's infected blood, not bites, that turn people, like in its contemporary 28 Days Later. There's remnants of that plot point in the film, most notably with the focus on Kenneth's injury during his scuffle with the infected Ben Cozine, but it's only stated to transfer via bite in the final product.
  • 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.
  • Mood Whiplash: After a long, somber sequence with quarantined Frank, which concludes with him turning and being instantly shot down by Kenneth, the film abruptly switches to a cheerful Time Passes Montage. And with Richard Cheese singing in the background.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nightmarish Nursery: Andre sets up a nursery for his heavily pregnant wife Luda in a deserted baby-needs shop, claiming one of the cribs and a mobile for his soon-to-be-born child. Unfortunately, Luda was bitten earlier and eventually transforms into a zombie about halfway through the film - then gives birth to a zombie baby. For added horror, a shootout occurs in the makeshift nursery when Norma discovers what's happened, resulting in the deaths of all four characters.
  • No Antagonist: There is no actual antagonist in this version of Dawn. The bikers from the original are Adapted Out, any conflict between the people in the mall is resolved in the first act, while the zombies are more of a force of nature (and safely outside the mall itself from the get-go) than anything that can be treated as antagonists. The closest to an antagonist is Steve, who's selfishness and cowardice imperils the other survivors several times, and Andre, who goes insane after Luda dies and reanimates.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: As sort of a game, Steve, Kenneth, and Andy shoot zombies that look similar to celebrities. Their on-screen targets include Jay Leno and Burt Reynolds stand-ins.
    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.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In the bonus feature, "We Interrupt This Program" a man reveals to a reporter that he went to the aid of a woman who seemed to be moaning in pain on the road only to get bit in his face for his troubles.
  • No Help Is Coming: The survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse take shelter in a mall and hold out in hope of rescue. This hope begins to fade after a helicopter spotted overhead completely ignores them, and then the rest of the world falls completely silent. At that point, as far as they're aware, they're the last living people on Earth.
  • No Name Given: The injured, overweight woman who's brought in as part of the second survivor group. She's never given a name, and really only exists to die and reanimate to show the other characters that the virus is transmitted through zombie bites.
  • No Object Permanence: The zombies in this film have an interesting trait. Anna's husband, once infected, begins attacking her, but when she closes the door (so fast she didn't even have time to lock it at first) her husband stops attacking as he seemingly forgets she exists for a brief moment. It's only when she makes enough noise that he begins attacking again.
    • The zombies outside the mall also count; breaking into a mall, with a horde as massive as theirs could easily break into a mall with pretty much no resistance (try watching Black Friday shopping rushes if you want examples), but the entire crowd, even when both Andy and the main group of survivors are taking pot shots at them, seemingly don't know they exist at all. This is in stark contrast to the original, where part of securing the mall included using a pair of trucks to block off the entrance from the main horde, and trapping the ones already right in front of the doors so they wouldn't have the leverage to break through. Here, it doesn't even seem to occur to the zombies to try.
  • 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: Know how to use that?
    Michael: [points at the end of the barrel] This one's 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, or another target of opportunity appears, making them much more dangerous than the shambling zombies of the original. The slight standoff they have with Kenneth on the stairs near the end, with them slowly approaching and seeming to try and find a way round him, also implies they at least have some thinking ability and maybe slight self-preservation instincts, being closer to animalistic than the mindless wandering flesh eaters of the originals. Moreover, their berserker rage, unrelenting drive to infect, and complete disinterest in any other potential food sources like animals seem to imply an almost programmed directive to seek and destroy humans exclusively. Hmm...
  • 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.
  • Random Events Plot: Pretty much all events and set-pieces within the story happen at random and characters are reduced only to reacting to them. Plans rarely reach fruition and is so - they have to be hastly adjusted.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Downplayed. Most of the characters are civilians with close to zero experience with firearms. While they don't do anything stupid involving firearms, everyone but Kenneth (a cop) and Andy (a gun store owner/amateur hunter) lacks trigger discipline.
  • Regret Eating Me: Knowing fully he's screwed already, C.J. decides to become a live bait and then detonates the propane tanks inside the bus.
  • 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.
  • The Remnant:
    • Kenneth remains in uniform and acting like a cop long after any indication of his department's existence.
    • C.J. keeps commanding his men (also in uniform) and trying to keep people out of the closed mall and from looting the shops well after it's evident that his employers will never come and punish him if he does not do it.
    • The soldiers at Fort Pastor remain in control for a while, trying to maintain order in the region and protect civilian refugees, but they took in bitten people, and according to Norma and her group, they were wiped out a few days in.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: Used when igniting the gasoline in the garage scene.
  • Rule of Scary: Invoked. The reason what's the cause of the zombie outbreak is never given.
    CDC Spokeman: I'll take your questions.
    Male Reporter: Is it a virus?
    CDC Spokeman: We don't know.
    Female Reporter: How does it spread? Is it airborne?
    CDC Spokeman: Airborne is a possibility. We don't know.
    Male Reporter: Is this an international health hazard or a military concern?
    CDC Spokeman: Both.
    Female Reporter: Are these people alive or dead?
    CDC Spokeman: (After long, stunted silence) We don't know.
  • 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 cruise.
  • 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.
  • Sex Signals Death: Luis, Monica and Steve all have sex on-screen and all die horrible deaths. Averted with Ana, who is one of the survivors, despite having sex with Luis in the opening - which is also the reason why they've missed an emergency broadcast.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The survivors manage to escape to one of the islands where they hope they can find sanctuary away from the zombies. Too bad The Stinger reveals that island is also filled with zombies!
  • 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.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Ana and her husband both sleep right through the outbreak due to taking a Shower of Love the previous evening and missing an emergency broadcast.
  • 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 women's shoes during the montage of time passing in the mall, although the directors cut includes a scene where it's outright stated.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Anything related with the chainsaw. It's a zombie movie, so it's going to be super-effective, right? Wrong. Not only it barely works for its intended role (the zombies just ignore being cut, while it takes some extra effort to do so), but it gets majority of people in one of the buses killed either directly or by causing a fatal crash.
    • Since Steve is the only person that owns a yacht and presumably knows how to sail, once he's dead, the remaining people end up using only motor propulsion, with no clue how to operate a sailing vessel, which is a bit more complex than "put the engine on and steer in the desired direction". So not only they are clueless about using their biggest advantage of sails, they also quickly run out of gas and are semi-stranded.
  • 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 Dead Have Eyes: The infectedís 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.
  • 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.
  • Time Passes Montage: After Frank turns and is put down post-reanimation, the film switches to the montage of various characters killing time, mimicking similar sequence from the original movie. Unlike the original, this one is purely played for fun and has an upbeat ending.
  • 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 Tucker bites it during rescuing her.
    • 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.
    • Andy lampshades this after he gets bitten. He says he should have been on his guard for zombies getting in. This is understandable however, given that he was starving.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: C.J. took one, or maybe even more. At first, he tried to turn away 5 survivors, but then agreed to let them in by locking them up. Then, he threatens to shoot them when they try to rescue a second wave of survivors, but he is subdued and gets locked up himself before being released to help restore power to the mall. Eventually, he learns how to cooperate with the rest of the group and gains their mutual trust, significantly toning down his jerkass behaviour. Ultimately in the end he makes the Heroic Sacrifice to help the few survivors get onto a boat blowing up the zombies, but also perishes in the ensuing explosion.
  • Trailers Always Lie: A scene that made it into the trailer had Andre checking the mall entrance when several zombies attack the outer door. In the finished film this is replaced with just one zombie attempting to break in.
  • Trope Breaker: A decade later, and the whole "Andy is isolated in his gun store and there is no way to reach him" subplot would be a massive stretch in the advent of civilian, readily accessible drones, given the main group is locked in a mall with just abut any store they can dream about. In fact, numerous zombie media since mid-2010s did include the use of drones, even toy ones.
  • Uncertain Doom: Like the original, the survivors eventually lose all contact with the outside world, making it uncertain how many, if any, other surviving groups there are, or the state of the rest of the world. Unlike the original though, there's no biker gang, so we never see any other survivors other than the cast themselves and Andy. However, the DVD feature "The Lost Tape", which is a video diary by Andy, includes text stating that the tape had been found by survivors passing through the city, meaning there are at least other survivors out there.
  • Undead Child:
    • The very first zombie we see is a little girl. More specifically, Anaís neighbour, Vivian.
    • Luda is pregnant when she's bitten by a zombie. After she finally turns she gives birth to a zombie baby.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The zombies are fast, show at least minimal signs of intelligence, never stop in their pursuit, can be attracted by sight or sound and come in huge numbers... but also have No Object Permanence and thus in favourable conditions can be easily tricked.
  • 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. In fact, there is more than one such sequence, but the longer the zombie apocalypse is going, the more laid-back the characters are about in those.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Many zombies, but notably Andy's death. Also played for some dark laughs as they play a "game" where Andy snipes out in the crowd zombies that looks similar to celebrities and everyone is cheering to his spotting and marksmanship skills.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


Let me get this straight

CJ summing up the insane escape plan of his group

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / LetMeGetThisStraight

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