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  • Accidental Aesop: Do not assume that you are alone in remote roads. The lead convoy car soldiers had a Driver Faces Passenger conversation while the oncoming car decided to have their "fun" because they likely thought they were alone in the road. The resultant crash started the whole plot.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • In the opening scene a commander is shown shooting one of his men in the head before taking over his machine gun. Was the soldier infected or did the commander commit a Mercy Kill to spare his man from being Devoured by the Horde? Or was he just being a Bad Boss? Then again considering he did it right before he lit a flare to signal jets to carpet bomb the entire area (which kills all surviving soldiers, himself included), it's again possible this was either a mercy from that - or to prevent him from potentially trying to stop him from lighting that flare.
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    • It is disturbingly easy to interpret Lily’s death as her being Driven to Suicide rather than a case of Heroic Sacrifice, considering in the previous scene she openly showed regret for her deal with Tanaka and for all the people she sacrificed to the Alpha.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Twice in the movie the camera lingers in zombies that are clearly at least partially robotic. The first one shows glowing blue eyes and the second one has his face ripped off to reveal a Terminator-like robotic skull. Despite the fact that the protagonists take a clear look at them in both scenes this is never explained in-story or commented upon by any of the characters.
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    • In the opening scene two UFO can be seen while the convoy is leaving Area 51. No explanation is given on their origin and if or how they are connected to the Alpha.
    • When they arrive at the vault, our protagonists find a bunch of skeletons that wear the same clothes as they do. Vanderohe (either jokingly or seriously, it's hard to tell) posits the idea that they're in a Stable Time Loop, which is promptly dropped and never mentioned again.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: What caused the first zombies to be released into Las Vegas? A guy crashing his car into the military envoy transporting the Alpha because he was distracted by his wife giving him road head.
  • Cry for the Devil: It's actually rather easy to root for the zombies in the movie with how they are portrayed. After all, it's not their fault they are what they are; as Vanderohe himself points out, they're all just people who got sick. They still tear down anybody they come across, but otherwise they'd just prefer to be left alone. The Alpha zombies, specifically Zeus, keep the shamblers in line and are even smart and willing enough to make a 'truce' with outsider humans who come into their territory if they leave an 'offering' for them in the form of someone whom they could turn into a new Alpha. They only become aggressive if the humans go out of their way to disturb them or hurt an Alpha, which is exactly what the team did in the movie. Zeus, in particular, only goes berserk when his lover, the Alpha Queen, is decapitated by Martin - which also resulted in their unborn fetus dying (and the moment is shown in a somber tone as the zombies mourned for the Queen and her baby). Really, he's more of a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds than a vengeful zombie overlord. He only goes after the crew because Martin hurt her. Had Martin just taken a blood sample like he said he would, or left the Queen alone entirely, the entire final zombie battle could've been avoided.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
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    • Marianne Peters naturally got a lot of the film's pre-release attention due to the circumstances of Tig Notaro having to film most of her scenes alone, and once the film was released she continued to get high praise for being a very credible action star despite the difficult shoot, being 50 years old, and only having come close to this kind of material before on Star Trek: Discovery, with many clamoring for Notaro to get her own action franchise.
    • Chambers has also gotten a good deal of this following the movie release, following her epic Dying Moment of Awesome which was so badass it had people rooting for her survival.
    • Dieter is also pretty popular as well thanks to his charming eccentric personality and being the Non-Action Guy who nevertheless is still very helpful toward the group and pulls his own weight. His Odd Friendship with Vanderohe is also one of the highlights of the movie, which makes it all the more tragic when Dieter sacrifices himself to save Vanderohe near the end.
    • Damon is quite popular, even if he appears in only one scene, for being the Only Sane Man who refuses to risk his life just to steal money from a city full of zombies.
  • Epileptic Tree: There exists a theory that the entire movie is a time loop of some sort. The crew comes across several corpses wearing identical clothes to their own, and one character even lampshades the possibility.
  • Evil Is Cool: Valentine the Zombie Tiger is rather popular for being an interesting take on the concept of zombie monster and for brutally killing Martin.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Zeus the Alpha Zombie and his Queen are an interesting example. They're both very well-built physically, but the fact that they're also feral zombies covered in rotting flesh borders on Fan Disservice. Their human forms would undoubtedly be attractive - not so as ravenous undead.
  • Genius Bonus: Sly pun or direct reference, it seems deliberate that Las Vegas is the chosen as the setting considering its fate since in the 1950 and 60s its nickname was Atomic City.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Epidemic outbreak and quarantine aside, the way people in the quarantine zone are tested (by checking body temperature) as well as the mention of the use of a health pass are reminiscent of some aspects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The film was shot before the outbreak outside of Tig Notaro's reshoots.
  • He Really Can Act: While Dave Bautista had already proved himself a capable actor in Blade Runner 2049, his interpretation as Scott Ward is considered one of the best parts of the movie. His death and subsequent transformation in a zombie are considered some of the best scenes of the movie thanks to the effort he put in the role.
  • He's Just Hiding!:
    • Some fans believe Dieter is still alive as he is never directly shown being bitten or killed by Zeus. This however seems to ignore the fact that even if he hadn't been killed immediately, he couldn't have survived the nuclear bombing of Las Vegas.
    • Valentine the zombie tiger, as its death was never shown on-screen, despite being in the epicenter of the nuke the last time it was shown.
  • Ho Yay: Dieter's interactions with Vanderohe can come across as this as he seems particularly focused on impressing the other man and even commits an Heroic Sacrifice to save him from Zeus. For that matter Vanderhohe's despair at seeing Dieter being taken away by Zeus only added fuel to the fire.
  • Magnificent Bastard: "Zeus" is King of the Shamblers, an immense undead being of unknown origins first recorded as a US military test subject. Escaping custody in a traffic accident, Zeus turns the soldiers transporting him into zombies and leads them to turn the majority of the humans of Las Vegas as well, getting the city quarantined. From his base in the Olympus casino, Zeus and his wife, the undead showgirl called the "Queen", turn the undead hordes into a functioning society, with no quarrel against the humans outside the quarantine zone so long as they supply him with sacrificial "tributes" to broker ceasefires. When a government agent kills the Queen to obtain samples of her immortal tissues for research, Zeus considers his ceasefire with the protagonists to be broken and effortlessly massacres most of them, using unexpectedly advanced tactics such as covering his one weak spot, his head, with a helmet. Utterly implacable with his grief at his lost love, Zeus proves more than a match for all the heroes together and survives many things that should have killed him, defeated only by a last-second distraction and killing all but one of the protagonists.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Martin deliberately leading Chambers off of the glow-stick trail through the sleeping zombies so she can provoke them awake and get attacked by them, just because she happened to insinuate that he was up to something nefarious, cements pretty well that he's not someone to be rooting for even before his ulterior motives are revealed. If that didn't do it, locking everyone in the basement and leaving them for dead so he can accomplish his true mission for Tanaka certainly drives them deep into MEH territory.
  • Narm:
    • To some viewers, the fact the zombie apocalypse was caused by a car crash because the driver was getting road head is this. The crash somehow causing an explosion big enough to flip over a large military transportation truck tops it off.
    • The paratroopers dropping down into the hordes of zombies in the opening montage is such an egregious and idiotic case of Hollywood Tactics that it's more unintentionally funny than tragic or cool.
  • Older Than They Think: 2011's Zombie Apocalypse already featured a zombie tiger.
  • The Scrappy: Kate Ward is easily the most disliked member of the crew thanks to her stupidly putting herself in danger to save a friend she’s not even sure is still even alive and failing to do so in the end. On top of that, her choice to abandon the group to look for Geeta forces Scott and Peters to go after her, resulting in their eventual deaths. And to further rub salt in the wound, she ends up being the only survivor of the crew, excluding an infected Vanderohe.
  • Signature Scene: The opening sequence 'Viva Las Vegas' after the prologue is widely considered to be the best and most memorable part of the movie, with its combination of great visual effects, effective Show, Don't Tell storytelling, actions that synced up nicely to the catchy background music. The whole sequence is Zack Snyder at his best.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • Most of the scenes with Tig Notaro (who was filmed on green screen and digitally inserted into the movie to replace Chris D'Elia) don't give the impression that she was filmed separately. There are still one or two examples where it is obvious, such as when Cruz and Scott come to recruit her — the way the shots are cut, never showing all three of them fully at the same time (the only shots with all three of them are the two of them and a slightly blurry torso in a flight jumpsuit), makes it very obvious they weren't all on set together.
    • The final shots of the helicopter fleeing the nuclear blast, past the perimeter of the fences, is markedly worse than the shots that precede it, with the helicopter looking flatly lit and the dropped shadow looking all wrong.
  • Spiritual Adaptation:
    • A Zombie Apocalypse in Las Vegas with a limited amount of time before the government firebombs the city, battles with the undead on casino floors, a host of Incongruously Dressed Zombies who embody Vegas stereotypes... is this Army of the Dead, or Dead Rising 2? Hilariously enough, that game's protagonist also had to kill his zombified wife and is motivated by protecting his daughter, and there was a side plot in that game involving one of the main antagonists robbing all of the Vegas stand-in Fortune City's casino vaults with his men before escaping the city via helicopter.
    • Heist movie set in the zombie apocalypse: arguably the US remake of Peninsula, a sequel to the South Korean zombie movie Train to Busan. Yeon Sang-ho has confirmed taking inspiration from Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead for Train to Busan, so it all rather amusingly comes full circle.
    • From the Alternate History comic book series Block 109, there's the album New York 1947, in which the Nazis send a team on a Suicide Mission to retrieve the content of a vault in Manhattan, which was bombarded with a virus beforehand. The virus turned most of its population into zombie-like mutants, some of which are stronger, smarter and dominate hordes of weaker ones. There's a kill by Neck Snap, and there's only one survivor.
    • Quite a few viewers joked that the movie is a better adaptation of the Suicide Squad comics than the 2016 movie as it stars a group of criminals risking their lives for their own sake, working for a sinister individual who lied about the true purpose of their mission and it ends with the death of most of the cast, including the protagonist. Funnily enough, Dave Bautista turned down a role in that film's sequel to play Scott here.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot
    • The alphas being intelligent and developed enough to negotiate with humans and even pair-bond with each other, not to mention the fact Zeus can sire children, is really interesting, but it's never really explored beyond making them more dangerous foes, and given how the movie ends they're all extinct.
    • Lilly notes that the seemingly dead zombies piled all over the streets of Las Vegas can be reanimated when exposed to rain. This could have led to an interesting challenge where the crew would have get through hordes of zombies during a suddenly rainy part of the day. This never happens.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: Considering that the movie ends with basically the whole cast dead, and the reveal that an infected Vanderohe is probably about to spread the Zombid plague to parts unknown, it can be very easy to stop caring about the plot since in the end, it was all for nothing.
  • Uncanny Valley: The way the zombies move, particularly the Queen, is a creepy mix of dancer- and animal-like that reminds you whatever they were once, they're not human now.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Kate Ward's unwavering and heroic quest to find and rescue Geeta in the zombie-filled Vegas for the sake of Geeta's two children is an unquestionably noble one, but near the end she breaks off on her own to find Geeta in a location previously established as a zombie hive (despite her father's warnings beforehand), with no clear indication if her friend is even alive, even after knowing that a nuclear strike is imminent with only minutes to spare. This forces Scott and Peters to go after her when they could've fled Vegas long before the nuke arrives. While Scott and Peters' actions afterwards play a part in causing their own deaths, the entire tragedy wouldn't have happened if Kate didn't break away on her own in the first place. And despite all of her efforts, Geeta dies at the end anyway, making her quest and the deaths of all those trying to save her all for naught.
    • Lily rants at Martin about how unlike outside Vegas, nobody inside the walls is betraying one another for profit. This is mere minutes after shooting one of their team in the leg, leaving him for the zombies, and revealing that the whole reason she brought him was to do exactly that (and that she has done this before).
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Chambers thinks it's a good idea to openly tell Martin that she knows he's up to something and threatening to tell the others her suspicions only to him and nobody else. This only results in Martin getting the opportunity to mislead Chambers through a horde of shambler zombies, which eventually results in her death.
    • Chambers fights her way through a horde of shambler zombies on her own and jumps through a window, running out of ammo right as she does with nothing but a few zombies in her way between her and her group. But her group does nothing but stand there and watch as the zombies close in around her, and none of them try to save her, even though they're all armed with guns, which results in her death. Furthermore, she uses what little time she has left to tell everyone to run instead of telling them about Martin. She clearly has enough time to do both, so it makes no sense for her to do just one and then wait for death.
    • Martin opting to decapitate the zombie queen when he only needed some samples does not fall into this: the zombies can communicate, and Zeus could hear her across great distances, so leaving her able to call him for a longer span of time would have been bad news. Just leaving her body there, in the open, perfectly visible and easy to find instead of using some time to take it inside and hide it to at the very least gain some time definitely is. (Wanting the sample at all might also qualify. Zeus getting out of military containment caused the zombie outbreak in the first place, so does setting up another round of that really seem like a good plan?)

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