Day of the Dead, 2008.
Directed by Steve Miner.
Starring Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon and Ving Rhames.
When the population of a small town become infected by a flu-like virus that turns them into flesh easting zombies, an elite military force is sent in to clean up the mess in a re-imagining of George A. Romero’s horror classic.
First of all it’s pretty rare that I feel compelled to spend time and effort writing about a film unless there’s something remotely positive to say. However, after wasting 86 minutes of my life (and £3.65 on a brand new Blu-ray, so what does that tell you?) on the abomination that masquerades as a ‘re-imaging’ of Day of the Dead I feel I’m left with little choice. As with the ‘zombies’ in the film, sitting through such utter garbage made me feel the urge to ‘savagely rip the limbs from any living creature that might stand in my way whilst chewing on their bones, sucking out their brains and chewing on their flesh’. Or maybe just my own.
That a film as appalling as this can ever see the light of day is one thing, but to blatantly capitalise on the name-value of George A. Romero’s Living Dead series (and, no doubt, Zack Snyder’s not-quite-shite 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake) with something bearing little – if any – resemblance to the original is just beyond a joke. Let’s start by taking a look at the similarities. There are zombies (sort of), military (if you can call them that), an underground bunker (for a minute, at least), and gore (if by gore, you include sub-standard, home-movie quality CGI). Oh, and there are people too. And credits. And that really is about it…
The story (or what passes as one) is as follows: A squad of soldiers led by Captain Rhodes (Ving Rhames) have cordoned off a small Colorado town after a flu-like outbreak. We’re soon introduced to a few of the locals – usual teen types Trevor (Michael Welch) and Nina (AnnaLynne McCord), DJ Paul (Ian McNeice, sporting a double-chin so big that it could be mistaken for a prosthetic if the rest of the effects weren’t so awful), and Trevor’s sister Sarah (Mena Suvari), or Sergeant Cross to privates Bud (Stark Sands) and Salazar (Nick Cannon, whose Marlon Wayans impression is perhaps the best thing about the movie). Stage 1 of this virus is the sniffles. Stage 2 is all-out insatiable thirst for blood, complete with immediate ripped up face and ‘fast-zombie’ characteristics.
So – after what seems like an age – stage 2 finally kicks in and all hell breaks loose, with a small number of survivors banding together to yadda yadda yadda…Okay, you can forgive the slow set-up, character introductions and so on, because once the zombies are running about tearing people to shreds then the film should get moving, right? Unfortunately not. Although by this point I’d somehow managed to convince myself that would be the case, it actually gets worse. Much worse…
Mena Suvari’s character Corporal Cross is slap-bang in the middle of everything that is wrong with Day of the Dead. First off, she’s a soldier that carries an unloaded weapon. Why? Has she tragically shot a civilian? One of her own team? A deer? No. She just doesn’t load her gun, which naturally causes problems when trapped by a horde of zombies. Secondly, the first act goes out of its way to establish that, having spent thirty minutes in her company, Bud has a severe chubby for Sarah. While the feeling doesn’t appear mutual at first, once Bud is infected with the virus she point-blank refuses to dispose of him (which seems odd given that five minutes earlier she had no issue mowing down her own mother in a Hummer). Then suddenly her reasoning becomes clear – Bud won’t attack them because he’s a vegetarian! If only more of us followed his example zombie outbreaks would be like water off a duck’s back! But wait, there’s more – not only does Bud manage to remember his preferred eating habits but also the boner he has for Sarah, so of course he then fends off a swarm of meat-eaters to allow her escape. Twice.
In all honesty you could spend days criticising every aspect of this film. Atrocious script, acting, pacing, visual effects, direction… you name it, it’s bad. Director Steve Miner has a couple of semi-decent / passable horrors to his name (Friday the 13th Parts 2 and 3, House, Halloween H20 and Lake Placid), and this is by far his worst. It’s also the worst zombie movie, the worst horror, the worst ‘remake’, and quite possibly the worst anything that I’ve ever seen. I’d like to be able to recommend it purely for purposes of mockery but this goes beyond the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ way of thinking into something else entirely. Trust me, you’ll find more enjoyment searching for amateur zombie videos on YouTube. Do yourself a favour and avoid this turd like the plague.