During a plague of flesh-hungry zombies, a group of survivors takes refuge in a suburban shopping mall where they must work as a team to fight off the threat.

Much, much more could have been made of the film's suburban setting and its suburban characters.

The idea of a bad remake of a classic film? It's almost too scary to contemplate, especially if said classic is in your personal pantheon. The question always begs, why remake something that is perfect? The answer of course is money, 'updating old movies for new audiences' is the justification from production companies and studios eager to cash in a generation who may not have yet discovered a cult classic at their local DVD store. Or might choose not to rent because it has some dodgy effects. (Just ask the guys who last year made Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974).

Uniting in their quest to cash in on some of $100 million the original film had generated since its release, Hollywood director/producer Michael Bay (Pearl Harbour) and German commercials and music video director Marcus Nispel made a rotten movie but ended up with an US$71 million return on their US$9 million investment due to its flash trailer and a canny marketing campaign).

In today's CG-heavy movie landscape you certainly could accuse George Romero's 1978 zombie film Dawn of the Dead of being clunky, although it pioneered new ground on the special effects front, with make up whiz Tom Savini going for broke with his latex and fake blood. Dawn was the second in Romero's groundbreaking 'Living Dead' trilogy, sandwiched between his masterpiece Night Of The Living Dead (1968) and the fun but ultimately inferior Day Of The Dead (1985).

Setting dawn in a Pittsburg mall, Dawn was Romero's savage and funny critique on the 'false security of a consumer society', where the all-consuming zombies became sport for the consumers stuck inside their shopping mecca.

Choosing to remake Dawn of the Dead as his first feature was commercials director Zack Snyder considered decision. A fan of the original, he ups the pace in his remake by exchanging Romero's slow-moving, lurching shopping mall monsters for faster-moving more lethal creatures. Sarah Polley (Go, the upcoming My Life Without Me) and Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction, Don King: Only In America) join the crew of bewildered survivors who hole up in the local mall after a mysterious virus has turned their loved ones into rotting cannibals with an insatiable hunger for their own.

Dawn Of The Dead
is technically very competent, everything is faster, glossier and gorier thanks to the injection of Hollywood dollars and director Snyder's MTV-Style sensibility. Blair Witch-style video transmissions also punctuate the narrative, telegraphing the horror and chaos going on outside.This is more of an Alien-style horror film, however, where a bunch of people are held captive inside a space and must fight to survive the threat without (or within).

The social critique that gave the first film its legs and longevity is paid lip-service only. Much, much more could have been made of the film's suburban setting and its suburban characters – a little more character development would have gone a long way in fact. Caring whether a character lives or dies is kind of essential to good horror films. And if they can't give us that the filmmaker better have at least a perverse sense of humour.

Dawn of the Dead
flirted with trying to do both gave in prematurely. Ultimately what we are left with is kind of banal, straight-out zombie action. Which is fine if that straight-out zombie action is all you are after. But is it wrong to expect more from horror films nowadays? To really deliver? Maybe I should go ask George Romero who continues to make horror films his way to this day?