Dawn of the Living Dead (Evil Grave: Curse of the Maya) (2004)

“Dawn of the Living Dead” is such a blatant attempt to garner the Romero fan’s attention, especially with the tagline “In the tradition of “Night of the Living Dead…” If we’re splitting hairs here, pretty much all of these zombie movies that copy Romero are in the tradition of “Night of the Living Dead.” David Heavener’s “Dawn of the Living Dead” (or “Evil Grave: Curse of the Maya”) induced my optimism and I pleaded that perhaps this movie would be a so bad its good little independent foreign horror comedy. Instead it’s just a film that revels in tedium, padding, and glacial pacing.

When a young couple inherits ownership to an abandoned California property, they decide to make it the home of their dreams. Little do they know, but fate has delivered them a nightmare, in the form of an army of undead zombies. Their dream house sets atop an ancient burial ground, cursed by an evil Mayan ritual killing. Now, with fresh meat nearby, the undead emerge to feast on the living and deliver their zombie carnage. The fate of the world is in the hands of our two, terrified homeowners, who must find a way to stop the undead before it s too late.

“Dawn of the Living Dead” just doesn’t know what it wants to be, so it’s constantly searching for an identity from minute one. Sometimes it’s a psychological drama, sometimes a ghost thriller, sometimes an adventure, and sometimes just a cheesy zombie movie with pretty standard gore effects and cliché characters set up to die. “Dawn of the Living Dead” is less an actual horror movie and more an attempt at cerebral horror with all out gore just to please the genre geeks. A woman with a past of mental illness and delusions has constant nightmares about the deaths of the family that resided in the house she and her husband currently owns.

There’s also a Mayan graveyard in the general vicinity which may be adding to weird occurrences of three red glowing orbs in the sky. As always, their house is in the middle of nowhere, and lo and behold as soon as the nightmares begin, people start dying across the land. The family rises to devour anyone that crosses their paths, and soon enough Renee goes exploring and finds more than she cares to know. She even finds more than we even want to know. Director Heavener’s direction and pacing are awful with some of the most generic stock scores I’ve ever heard in a horror film.

The film descends into this zombies-on-a-rampage flick and then all forward motion is halted for attempted characterization set to awful dialogue. There are also glowing orbs in the sky for some reason. I’d say “Dawn of the Living Dead” is far from the worst direct to DVD horror film but it is the most inane ninety minutes you’ll spend watching endless dialogue, and zombies popping up inexplicably.