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The Forgotten Zack Snyder Zombie Movie That's Killing It On Hulu

Horror remakes are a dime a dozen, but there is still something truly special about what Zack Snyder achieved with his 2004 remake of George A. Romero's 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead. Like the original Dawn of the Dead — the second installment in Romero's iconic Night of the Living Dead zombie series — the film centers on a group of survivors who hide out in a shopping mall after society collapses due to a zombie takeover.

Instead of being a feature-length commentary on consumerism like the first Dawn of the Dead, this version leans more into the sheer horror of hopelessness and self-defeatism as the survivors struggle to reckon with the collapsed world outside of their safe haven — and their own sense of isolation, even within such a sprawling hideaway. Not only does it include one of the most stunning introductory scenes in modern horror, with plenty of gore and jaw-dropping surprises to follow, but the film is tightly paced, boasts smart characters, and even incorporate some moments of humor that will truly immerse you into the story. Without spoiling too much, the film also ends on a bone-chillingly bleak note that becomes instant nightmare fodder.

The movie, which is currently available on Hulu with the Starz add-on, features rock solid performances from its all-star ensemble, including Sarah Polley as a nurse who watches the neighbor girl maim her husband, Ving Rhames as a muscly police sergeant, Mekhi Phifer as a petty criminal who is determined to protect his wife and baby-to-be, Ty Burrell as a fast-talking yuppie, and Michael Kelly as a security guard.

The behind-the-scenes talent made a conscious choice to start fresh

Instead of being a rote remake of the first movie, Dawn of the Dead is a highly original follow up to the first film because the filmmakers  decided to forge their own path for the film, whether it was being dubbed a remake or not. The film marked Snyder's feature film debut and was based upon a script from eventual Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn.

Snyder thought it was important to shift the overall theme and tones of the film, even though the messaging was part of what had made Romero's version such a standout, because the concept of mass consumerism as a movie metaphor was simply old news by then. "When Romero made his movie, mass consumerism was a really fresh topic," Snyder explained to FFC. "People were more unaware that they were living in a mass consumerist society, but now, man, if people don't know we're living in a commercial, a cynically commercial society now, a movie ain't gonna wake you up to it."

Meanwhile, Gunn revealed in a recent Twitter thread that when he first approached the process of scripting Dawn of the Dead, which was before Snyder was hired to direct, Gunn decided, "Why redo it?" Instead of drawing too much from Romero's vision, Gunn decided the only carryover elements should be "the mall and the zombies and that's about it as far as the plot goes." Even though Gunn grappled with a vicious online film community's skepticism about him remaking a Romero film, he eventually won them over with his terrifying script and, of course, the gripping final product.