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Day of the Dead (2008)
Written by Jeffrey Reddick
Directed by Steve Miner
Runtime 86 min.
3 out of 5

A strange flu outbreak.

Nose bleeds.

Death.

Rebirth . . . in rage.

No one knows how anyone got sick . . . at least, no one is telling us. The US Army is all over it, quarantining Leadville, Colorado. Sarah Bowman (Mena Suvari) is serving her country and is part of the troops bordering the town.

Except they can’t contain the rage-filled maniacs that have returned from the dead after being killed by the flu.

Going back for her mother (Linda Marlowe), she runs into her brother, Trevor (Michael Welch), and tries and save their mother’s life. Unfortunately, the mom falls victim to the virus and Sarah and her brother—along with his girlfriend/female interest, Nina (AnnaLynne McCord), and a couple of Army Joes—try and flee from the ever-escalating attack of flesh-hungry zombies that stop at nothing to satisfy their gut-munching desires.

Adding a strange twist to things, one of the army chaps, Bud Crain (Stark Sands), gets infected and later transforms into an angry zombie as well, but Sarah keeps him along for the ride, feeling sorry for him. Besides, he seems harmless enough and hasn’t attacked them.

When their hope of escape falls through, Sarah and the others must make their last stand against the undead before they are ripped to pieces.

Can they survive this Day of the Dead?

The first thing that comes to mind about this movie is that it’s hardcore. The zombies in this flick aren’t just your average gray-skinned, baggy-eyed monsters. The person infected dies then are suddenly transformed into pale-skinned, decayed-fleshed, white-eyed beasties loaded with so much rage that hate and hunger emanates from them before they even move in for the kill. Speaking of which, they move so fast you’d think they’re part vampire or something. Crazy speed with these guys and, for me, those quick, jerky movements of the undead creep me out every time.

The story’s simple: an outbreak, people turn into zombies, folks run for their lives. Hey, standard zombie fare, and that’s part of the fun. I also liked having a female in the lead and it was neat to see Mena Suvari—who usually plays the fun, get-along girl—take charge and blast the heads off these creatures.

I was totally into this flick. The suspense was building. Every time a zombie jumped out I was jumping on my couch. All good.

Then Bud died, came back—and was nice? This bit took me out of the movie and it’s why I’m giving this a 3 out of 5 instead of a 4 like I was going to. It just totally ruined it for me, especially when Sarah and friends were riding with him in the Humvee and, after a short debate about why this zombie was riding with them, they all seemed pretty cool with it.

Bud’s bit at the end was also predictable, but, hey, what’re you gonna do?

I did like how vulnerable these zombies were to fire and how quickly the flames destroyed them.

The ending director Steve Miner chose for this flick was the better of the two as the alternate ending on the DVD, though very similar, wasn’t as strong and was a bit hokey. Having Salazar (Nick Cannon) die was the best choice.

If you like your zombie flicks raunchy, quick and gory, you’ll love this Day of the Dead remake. If you’re one of those folks who are sticky about story plausibility—even in the realm of zombie movies—then this probably won’t be up your alley.

Your call.