To be honest, I have been dreading this film since I first heard of it. Why remake Dawn of the Dead, a movie all but impossible to improve on? I could understand remaking Day of the Dead, restoring Romero’s vision to what it was before monetary issues forced him to scale it down; even modernizing Night of the Living Dead is almost justifiable, albeit unnecessary; but Dawn seemed to have taken its concept as far as it could possibly go. So it was with a certain sense of dread that I sat down to watch the first ten minutes of it’s remake. My apprehension was unnecessary, however; as I am happy to say that if the rest of the film is as good as the opening, it will probably be the best genre-remake since Carpenter’s The Thing.
The brilliance of it is that rather than merely modernizing the nightmarish reality of the original (as most remakes do), it presents its own very different scenario. Unlike the slow, creeping horror of the originals, the apocalypse comes literally overnight in this version, with neighborhood children becoming bloodied maniacs and adoring husbands living dead versions of Jack Torrance. In fact, the opening owed more to The Shining and 28 Days Later then its own source material; and it is that sense of unpredictability that keeps it engaging.
As for the gore — while not as copious as the opening to the unrated original, it is even more disturbing because the comic book orange of the original has been dropped and the acts of violence themselves are less an emotionless instinct and more like 28 Days Later’s unrepentant anger (in particular, one desperate struggle in the back of an ambulance will stick with you). As for the characters — In the short time we see them they are very engaging and realistic, just like their predecessors. Universal has taken a gamble on this gimmick, and I for one believe it will pay off.