Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead ★★★★

This film was a blast, and exactly the kind of throwback to 80’s ensemble action B-movies that I crave. I really enjoyed it from start to finish.

The zombie genre holds a special place in my heart, and I’ve enjoyed everything from the classic Romero stuff to modern post-28 Days Later revival and everything in between. I laugh when I see people argue over what a proper zombie movie should look like, because it’s always been one of the most flexible and ever-evolving corners of horror - as long as there’s a horde of no-longer-living humans on the rampage then it’s a zombie film in my book. So in that sense it’s really exciting to see Zack Snyder further experiment and tinker with the formula in Army of the Dead.

“Thinking zombies” aren’t a totally new concept, and Romero famously flirted with this idea in both Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead, but Snyder takes it a step further here, with undead monsters that can not only run, but also reason with humans, ride horses and (apparently) have sex. To be totally honest I’m not completely sold on the concept, but at least this film has the balls to really double down on it and pretty much gets away with it through sheer commitment to the concept (even if it’s a bit ridiculous). It does feel as though it veers more into vampire territory when we see the main “Alpha Zombie” purposely making more of his kind by biting his chosen victims, but fuck it, I’m all for a crazy monster movie mash up - especially when it’s as fun and bonkers as this! 

As for the structure of the film and story itself, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed all of the characters and the dynamics they had with each each other. It’s heavily influenced by things like Aliens and Predator in that regard (“you don’t see them screwing each other over” was a nice nod to Aliens, and there was plenty of getting to tha choppa in the final act), and it actually does manage to come off as effortless as those great movies in my opinion. There wasn’t a character I didn’t like, or that felt surplus to requirement and I appreciated how diverse the cast was without that ever being made to be ‘a thing’. Considering how overly serious all Zack Snyders superhero movies have been I couldn’t quite believe how genuinely funny Army of the Dead was either.

There are loads of things that really should not work in this film, like introducing the majority of the main characters in a dialogue free montage sequence during the opening credits, or taking the cape and helmet wearing zombies seriously when everything else is presented as a joke - but by some miracle it manages to blag its way to becoming a pretty tight and VERY fun little action horror thrill ride. 

Hats off to Zack Snyder, I loved this and can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

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