Zack Snyder subverts the classical trope of zombies for Netflix’s terrifying Zombie universe
The buzz is picking up around Zack Snyder’s action-packed heist, Army of the Dead (AOTD) with zombies. The world switched into apocalypse mode (read pandemic), you would think that we would have reached a saturation point with the survival horror genre. But by the looks of it, Snyder‘s second take in the zombie genre is a crowd pleaser!
All speculations aside, what we are interested in is how AOTD subverts the classical trope of zombies as mindless sacks of rotting flesh, lumbering to find their next victim. In what is being claimed to be a “spiritual successor” to his first smash hit ‘Dawn of the Dead’ released 17 years ago, we look at why Snyder’s zombies are a tougher opponent to beat. Here at Dkoding, we’ve used the trailer for analysis, so bear with us till we get our hands on the actual copy of the movie!
They are fast and focused!
Okay hear us out – this might sound like an obvious one to start off with, but what’s scarier than finding zombies that can run?
Cue the AOTD zombies – from the looks of the trailer, not only are they fast, but they seem to show off some serious parkour skills. In one scene, Dave Bautista definitely has a hard time fending off a group that are snapping at his heels, easily leaping over casino machines. Unlike other heist movies where you have to face Human opponents and break into security systems designed by human beings, this is a completely different setup.
They have a heirarchy!
A clear heirarchy shown in the dynamics of the zombie king and the horde he controls.
Yup – they have a king – a freaking zombie king! Complete with his ensemble of a zombie platoon, willing to do his bid. The zombie king, aptly named Zeus, is astride on a zombified horse, roars into the noon sky, as the horde he commands unleashes hell over Vegas.
For comparison, all Game of Thrones fans remember just how terrifying the While Walkers as a unit became, once the Night King was revealed. Even on an individual level, had Army of the Dead presented the zombies as quick on their feet, the effect would have been no where as serious as it is now. The stakes are much higher and the mercenary group led by Batista, has their work cut out for them.
Purists might argue that this goes against tradition – granting sentience to zombies isn’t generally seen in the lore. But that’s where all the fun is – it raises questions on why the zombie group chooses to stay in Vegas. What is the king commanding, and more importantly, protecting within the city? How did he grab that position? Are there others waiting under him that are as hungry to rise up the ranks? Given the attention shown to the king in the trailer, we think a showdown between Batista and Zeus is inevitable.
This also implies that the zombies are likely to more ruthless, calculating and merciless with whatever they have in plan for the infiltrating band of thieves.
A zombie tiger!
Animals have always been a tricky affair to show in zombie movies. Apart from the infamous zombie dogs in the Resident Evil franchise, earlier adaptations have stayed away from this subject matter. In The Walking Dead, dogs were briefly shown to have survived, banding together in ragged packs. Other animals like horses, cows and pigs generally turned into zombie feed.
AOTD is zombie tiger is another thing all together – definitely a flex from Snyder when it comes to special effects department. Can you image handling a real tiger on set? It also is a nod to the heyday of Vegas life – symbolizing the opulence, extravagance and excess. Something that the mercenary group are trying to get a piece of.
We are curious to see what part the zombie tiger plays in the grand narrative – shown striding along Zeus, it could very well be the zombie king’s favorite pet. As Garret Dillahunt’s character Martin comments , “That’s crossing the line!”. Honestly, we would love to see what the tiger is used for – please let it not be just an expensive CG set piece!