Day of the Dead (2008)

As a buddy once said: The Only thing worse than a bad horror movie is a boring horror movie, and “Day of the Dead (2008)” unfortunately didn’t bore me. In fact I had fun in a guilty pleasure mindset watching these idiotic zombies adhering to whatever principle that would grant story progression. As well, these zombies are much more energetic and entertaining than the ones in the “Resident Evil” movie incarnations for the fact that they actually act like zombies and provide some sense of menace and terror even when they’re bursting into flames and withering out like cigarette ash.

As for Mena Suvari she’s aged well and really does seem to want to give this role every bit of life possible, and in a better movie her heroine would have been rather entertaining to root for. So the question ultimately becomes: Would this “Day of the Dead” 2008 be any better or worse if it didn’t have the title from the Romero classic? Well, yes and no. As its own movie, it’s awful, but in the mindset of a remake is by far one of the worst retreads ever made. “Dawn of the Dead” brought about a huge resurgence of the reamek sub-genre in 2004 that would eventually give birth to “Day of the Dead,” an inevitable remake that makes the gross mistake of not tapping Zack Snyder’s well. It has zero connection to the aforementioned title, it has no continuity, and really only sports the similarity in the way of Ving Rhames. Which isn’t surprising. You’d never see Sarah Polley in this.

Instead, what we get is Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon, and Rhames, all of whom are pretty much at the end of their respective careers. That’s where Miner is able to garner interest, by folks who were once generally interesting names. Ostensibly, “Day” is just another stupid cash-in and one that I have zero respect for, but who gives a crap? This movie will garner profits based on curiosity alone, and Romero isn’t safe from further sodomizing by hack filmmakers looking to pick off of his remains. “Day of the Dead 2008” is a remake of Romero’s underrated zombie picture, which has now been modernized to the point where the zombies aren’t even technically zombies anymore. They crawl on walls and ceilings, roar, and burst into flames. There’s even a vegetable eating zombie, of all things.

I didn’t hate “Day 2008” in fact, I think as a throwaway effort it would have been just another horrible horror flick, it’s just excruciating because director Miner has no idea how to operate a camera, nor can he direct the crew of unknowns and stars properly. Rhames channels Marcellus Wallace once again as Captain Rhodes: a character now rendered unimportant to the overall arc, Suvari is pretty much a snore away from sleepwalking through this, and Nick Cannon is really all about slang and Ebonics spouting every such one-liner possible in ninety minutes; as Salazar he’s quite possibly one of the most obnoxious heroes ever created and makes the original Rhodes seem humble by comparison. Upon Bud marveling at his home made spear, Salazar played by Cannon declares: “Oh I’m a black man so automatically it’s a spear?”

Upon requesting they split up, Salazar again remarks: “Why do white people always want to split up?” Cannon just delivers the clunky hip hop lingo without so much of a twitch and will truly test the patience of the viewer who will be reluctant to blow their brains out and instead aim at Cannon when he’s on screen. As for Bud (yes, he’s called Bud now), Stark Sands mimics Sherman Howard very well but is sadly reduced into less of a character and more of a cheesy disposable plot device. As Bud he’s whiny, loud and obnoxious and lacks any of the sympathy and heart Howard injected into his zombie hero. The rest of the performances are delightfully forgettable with Suvari seemingly trying her hardest with a role that requires little thought or skill, when all is said and done.

“Day” sets down at the beginning of another Zombie Apocalypse where the military have shut down and sealed off a town as the living dead begin to take over and destroy humanity thanks to a flu-like infection that only a select few (read: main characters) are immune to. Writer Reddick’s own “Day” is effectively void of suspense, tension, and urgency while the zombie invasion is pretty much just a bland and predictable affair with Miner and co. utterly unable to decide what kind of zombies they’re giving us. They’re a little bit of the Ragers from “28 Days Later,” a little bit of “Demons,” a little bit of Spider Man, and a little bit of the traditional zombies from “Dawn,” save for the menace and gloom the aforementioned monsters put on the table, and they’re able to do whatever the situation calls for. One moment they can jump high enough to smack at a second floor window, but can’t reach at a character hanging from a ceiling.

They have no idea how to break through a door but can effectively jump through windows out of high rises to chase after our heroes. Our characters bear about the only similarities to the original “Day,” and Taurus Entertainment really just titles this “Day” for the sake of the almighty dollar. While it’s not the worst remake of all time, it really does compete for the top five when all the garbage runs down stream. What can I say? Romero spoiled me with his “Dead” series, but I think there was potential to create a fun zombie movie if done with the right writers and director and without the title of “Day of the Dead.” This “Day” is nowhere near the worst zombie movie I’ve ever seen, but it will follow in the slew of truly atrocious remakes undeserving of their titles. Give me the original “Day” any day of the week.