Night of the Living Dead ★★★★

Zombie movies or stories have become something of a commonplace, but personally I haven't found many that were realistic in their portrayal of characters, who are always either too stupid or unlikeable, or they die too quickly. I need at least one sensible character that I can identify with and root for. I came to this movie expecting to see all the familiar tropes that are repeated to exhaustion nowadays, but was actually pleasantly surprised by what an intelligent, realistic movie this was (well, except in its portrayal of women... But more on that later).

The entire movie revolves around a group of strangers who find themselves in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, and who find shelter in an abandoned farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Keeping in mind that zombies were not the well-known monsters they are nowadays, the characters behave in believable ways to what must have been the strangest thing they had ever seen happening. You have characters who are immediately caught by the zombies, those who manage to survive but go into shock, the active ones who immediately go into leadership mode and put plans into motion, and everything in between. I did have a problem with how the women characters behaved - they mostly sat around whining, doing nothing or making matters worse, while the men protected them. It's the kind of a thing that, as a woman, gets really tiring and depressing to watch after a while. This was easily the worst part of the movie, and the only thing keeping me from truly loving it.

On the other hand, the way the story progress is quite ingenious. The audience knows as little of what is happening as the characters, who find out progressively what is really going on by listening to the radio or watching the news on television. The moment they find out that the people who are attacking them are actually eating human flesh is chilling. As a modern viewer, it's hard to feel terrified at this, since we know all too well what to expect, but you do feel the oppressiveness of being inside an unfamiliar house, the paranoia of covering all the entrances while trying to keep an easy way out, the despair of being surrounded and alone without knowing if help will come.

The ending is very powerful, as well. Recommended!