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DVD Review

DVD cover

Day of the Dead (2007)


Starring: Ving Rhames, Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon and Christa Campbell
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 18
Available 01 September 2008

A military cordon is erected on the road into a small American town, when an outbreak of flu-like symptoms strikes the citizens. One of the soldiers assigned enforcing the quarantine has a more than vested interest in what might be happening, as her family are inhabitants. Driving to the hospital with a subordinate, she soon discovers that the virus is altering the synapses of the victims' brains, effectively changing them into crazed flesh-eating creatures. A single small bite is enough to spread the contagion. Teaming-up with her brother and his girlfriend, she is obliged to negotiate her way through the hoards of roaming creatures and out of town - in the process attempting to learn what has caused the outbreak...

Admittedly, I'm not generally enamoured with zombie films. As a long-time horror enthusiast, I've viewed countless examples and, aside from a few rare exceptions, they are fundamentally alike.

George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead was something spectacularly original and did for zombies what the 1922 film Nosferatu did for vampires - which was put them firmly on the map, even creating sub-genres. Unfortunately, Day of the Dead follows the standard tired format - the only difference being the quick attacking movements of the infected, as opposed to the slow lumbering we've become use to. This definite improvement has been stolen by this film and others from the inventive 28 Days Later.

In nearly every other respect Day of the Dead is brimming with stereotypes and clichés. There's the gun-happy and brash soldier, his more refined and intelligent superior officer (the now commonplace tough female lead), her younger civilian brother and his girlfriend, and a central character who slowly changes into a monster. There is also the person who knows more than they're saying, and the obligatory government/military research centre which is responsible for the outbreak.

Although you very much get what you would expect from a zombie film, it is crafted with some style. I was interested to learn that DOTD is directed by Steve Miner, who wrote the mould-breaking Final Destination, and directed Halloween H20 and two films in the Friday 13th franchise. The choreography is very professional, allowing the prosthetics and special effects to shine through, and there is obvious careful consideration given to lining-up shots with both foreground and background activity.

This version of Day of the Dead from 2007 is said to be based on George A. Romero's classic, and I would say it succeeds in its modern interpretation. But the problem lies in the basic plot which is a game-like shoot-em-up - reducing the film to zombie-by-numbers, hence the average rating. However, if you approach it as non-cerebral (in other words, allow a zombie to eat your brain first), you might well have fun watching it. Extras consist of a series of short interviews.


Ty Power

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