The Dawn of the Dead This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 15, 2012
Horror stirs up powerful emotions that no other genre can. Some hate it, some love it, but it's no debate that good horror films give viewers that gut feeling of pure fear. A very special sub-genre of horror is the zombie film. The 2004 remake of “The Dawn of the Dead” is one of the most frightening zombie films of all time.

The film sets the tone in the first fifteen minutes. The movie uses the slight darkness of dawn to increase tension in the opening scene. There's something about dawn that makes us uneasy. Maybe it's the absence of normal human activity. Perhaps it's the unique shadows cast by the rising sun. Dawn is the halfway point between total darkness and utter light, a transitional period.

The movie opens as the alarm clock next to the protagonist's bed strikes 6 a.m. A fantastic camera view pans down a long hall, to something descending on the slumbering protagonist and her husband. The unknown figure slowly walks into the room, face concealed by shadows. As the husband awakens, the figure steps into the dim light revealing the zombified version of the couple's neighbor's young daughter. The creature attacks the husband, spreading the contagion to him. Suddenly, the protagonist's world is turned against her; her neighbor and her husband are now her enemies. This scene is absolutely hair-raising from beginning to end. It's truly a fantastic work of horror.

The rest of the film is just as great. The movie uses a sense of isolation to create tension. The characters are trapped in a shopping mall, surrounded by the undead. Supplies dwindle and desperation increases. Being trapped is something everyone fears, and the writers and director exploit this loss of control fantastically. Movies about the undead create a special kind of fear. Friends turn on each other, loved ones could be trying to kill you, and all the while you know if you are exposed to the virus, you'll transform into one of the infected. Zombie movies take the common phobia of disease and use it against the audience.

Horror films are unlike any other genre. Entertainment that creates fear is reviled by some and revered by others. These films reach into viewers' minds, exposing fear and dread and creating tension that feels very real. “The Dawn of the Dead” of old and new are ­brilliant examples of horror films that work, creating apprehension in even the strongest of hearts. That makes them stand the test of time and ­survive as legendary horror ­entertainment.

This film is rated R.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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