Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Big Clue Everyone Missed Early In Army Of The Dead

If you watch enough movies in the same genre, soon you'll start noticing how many of them use the same storytelling conventions. Horror movies, and zombie movies in particular, are full of recurring tropes that are familiar to longtime fans. Zack Snyder's 2021 zombie heist flick "Army of the Dead" is no different.

Set six years after a zombie outbreak has rendered Las Vegas uninhabitable, "Army of the Dead" follows a group of mercenaries and their leader Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), who are hired to infiltrate a zombie-ridden casino and recover $200 million. But — as often happens in movies like this — one member of the group has an ulterior motive that drives him to betray the others.

If you've seen enough horror movies, you've seen a twist like this before, but there's one big clue early on in the movie that suggests where the story is headed. In fact, it's right there in the title itself.

Martin's conflicted motivations satisfy a horror trope

Early on in "Army of the Dead," the casino owner who hires the mercenaries, Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), insists that they bring along one of his own employees for the job, an associate named Martin (Garrett Dilahunt). This is suspicious — if Bly is comfortable hiring mercenaries, why does he also require that they bring along one of his most valuable employees, who could easily die on the mission?

It later turns out that Tanaka really wanted the mercenaries to capture the head of a powerful Zombie Queen that's capable of making a bunch of zombie-soldiers, which he wants to then sell to the military — hence the title, "Army of the Dead." Sure enough, once the mercenaries secure the head, Martin betrays the rest of them and leaves them to their doom.

Plenty of horror movies have used a similar moment of betrayal to raise the stakes. It's a classic storytelling maxim that you should endeavor to get your characters up a tree, and then throw rocks at them. Horror also tends to bring out the worst in characters; if there's a group of people trying to survive a monster or a deranged killer, odds are one of them will turn on the rest sooner or later. It's just human nature.