Because the band of survivors in 2004 is way bigger, we don’t get to really know them or feel like everyone has a purpose in being there. It begins to feel like some are only there for kills. That being said, while this is usually a bad thing, I would argue that it isn’t in the case of 2004’s Dawn of the Dead. What makes it acceptable here is that (as I mentioned before) both movies are looking to serve a different purpose. While the original seems be a more emotional piece of scary social commentary, the remake feels like its intended purpose is to freak out the audience with incredible death scenes. What better way to provide more of these (still effective) kills than with more characters? This difference is also represented in the other characters found in both movies: the “zombies” (is there some unspoken rule saying that we can’t really even call them that? I feel like there is, or I totally made that up). In 1978, the zombies we get are classic and very true to what we think of when we hear the “Z” word. They’re extremely slow, almost mindless, they walk with their arms out, and the way to kill them is by getting to the brain. This works perfectly in the original because, again, it is much slower paced and it gives our four survivors a logical chance to defeat them or run. This doesn’t make them any less scary, though, especially because in the original the mall is infested with huge crowds of them.
This seems to be the only real conflict we get in the 2004 remake (I mean, besides the hordes of zombies OUTSIDE of the mall), so when the group decides to finally leave the mall it almost feels like a “just because” thing. In the Romero original, the mall gets over run by a crazy biker gang that wreaks havoc and contributes conflict between the humans, which eventually forces our remaining survivors to escape the mall. I’m not sure why they decided to completely omit the biker gang in 2004, because it would have given the survivors a more logical reason to leave. I still don’t think this is a major flaw, because we are also given interesting sub-plots in the remake that are well done and give it some emotional depth. For instance, there's a zombie baby that they’re forced to kill, which challenges the morality of our survivors and allows the audience to ask themselves what they would choose to do in that position. We are also met with the conflict of a father that has been bitten and his daughter begging the group not to kill him before he zombifies. These instances provide the remake with some substance that makes it more than just a careless gore-fest, which I can and do appreciate.
The Other Stuff
The Final Verdict