Elegant remake of Romero’s 1973 classic, throwing away the politics and concentrating on the central characters.
Timothy Olyphant stars as a small-town sheriff (surprise) who is the first to realise what’s happening to the residents. As he’s married to Radha Mitchell, the movie focuses on their attempts to escape town to possible survival, with deputy Joe Anderson and Danielle Panabaker in tow.
As with the original, there’s a lot of fun to be had from guessing which cast member will be next to get the twitches and the urge to go nuts. However, there’s no sense of the panic and chaos created by Romero, despite a budget around 100 times the size. Part of that is due to our knowledge that this is made for mainstream audiences who don’t want to be too upset beyond the odd gory-set piece, and to be fair the film caters for this very well. There’s also an over-reliance on zombie-style make-up which needlessly tips us off as to who is insane.
The cast do well – there’s a tiny cameo appearance from Lynn Lowry from the original, but sadly there’s no room in this version for an equivalent of Richard France’s stroppy doctor who may be developing the cure by eating the scenery. Olyphant can do ‘small town sherriff’ in his sleep by now, but nevertheless brings a lot of charm and conviction to his role. The angry seventies tone of the original is replaced by a glossy lack of trust in anyone, which is about the best we can hope for from a big studio remake. And there’s a cynical (not to mention incredible) finish which is about as political as it gets. If you’re happy with this approach, then you’ll enjoy it.
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