Directed By: John Axinn
Starring: Josh Duhamel, Dule Hill, Katharine Isabelle
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Entertainment has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections.
So, I want to say from the out set that I am a big fan of the recent Warner Bros. direct-to-video animation. I wanted to give this a fair shake even though I think an animated version of Night of the Living Dead (1968) is something nobody asked for. I think a little context is probably in order before I get into this review. Night of the Living Dead infamously is in the public domain after it was not registered properly. This means that TV networks, home video labels and studios can use the film or remake it without paying a cent. Now, some could argue that this over-saturation helped keep the film in the public zeitgeist which lead to Romero making Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985) and Creepshow (1982) among others. An official remake did happen directed by Tom Savini in 1990. This is be generally well received by horror fans. Since then though there has been many attempts to capture the original films atmosphere, dread and social satire.
But, okay. I sat down and hoped that director John Axinn make try to do something interesting with Living Dead in the context of a modern lens. After all the original was a movie about deep paranoia, fear and came at a time of great unrest in America. Hmm...That seems like the perfect opportunity to showcase this film for a new generation of horror fans. Sadly though, Axinn just does a totally retread of the original which feels like a shot-for-shot remake. Only now its in color and more graphic. I sucks because I think that this could have been so interesting by taking the template of the original film and with some creativity, could have re-shaped it for a modern post-Trump landscape. But it does nothing of the sort.
And, okay if they were going to make a shot-for-shot remake to help sell this movie to a younger audience- why not give it the grit and grime it deserves? Warner Bros animation has what they call a house style. This is done so all the animation stays looking clean and consistent throughout. This works really well with their DC animated films. In fact, I have often praised them for how this works well within their superhero outings. For horror though, it just feels out of place. I kept hoping that the movie would have a animation style that reflected at least the grit and stark nihilism of the '68 film.
Here we can bright out of place and frankly not very good looking animation for what is just a totally remake of the original. It being stripped of its black-and-white doesn't help give it its haunting atmosphere of the original. The director has stated that it being in color was to make it feel "modern". Notably the only change is a added scene that is described in the movie but is shown (for a second) and this doesn't add anything new.
I wanted to love this movie, it has a talented voice cast and I am still a huge fan of Warner Bros animation. I just have to be honest and say I wasn't into this one. I gave it a fair shot and hoped that it would had done something, anything to make it worth praising.
Picture: Like a lot of WB's animation the 1080p picture is crisp, clean and pristine looking. The colors for better or worse really do pop and look striking. This as always does showcase the nice animation work.
Sound: Night of the Animated Dead has a nice robust DTS 5.1 track. Dialogue music and design sound comes with a great 3D depth in my opinion.
Extras: Extras include Making of: Animating the Dead