The IMDB blurb for (former Man of Steel director) Zack Snyder’s next movie, Army of the Dead reads:
“Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.”
Any other details on this movie are obviously sketchy at this early stage, and while I don’t really rate Snyder as much of a director anymore (he’s got bit of a reputation for being one of the worst movie directors of the current mainstream crop) this – this I’m looking forward to.
It’s a definition that sounds purposely hacky – with its Vegas setting it’s destined to be hot, sleazy, greedy, and we’re bound to see stylistic shots of the undead in front of bright slot machines with even bigger claims of WINNING BIG.
Does Snyder Have It In Him?
Way before that godawful, murky and plodding Batman V Superman, Snyder came on to the scene as the schlocky wonderkid who liked to cover the screen in blood and fill the room with characters – good and bad – that were just begging to be torn apart.
Let me take you all the way back to the first five minutes of Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead: We open on a nurse returning home from a long shift, coming back to her partner. They spend the night together, only to find that the next morning he is attacked, bitten, and turned in to a rabid monster. A completely different being to the man that she knew, drenched in blood; he attacks her. Fighting her partner off, and locking herself in the bathroom of their house, she clambers out of the window, to jump in the car and escape the carnage-ridden neighbourhood.
Snyder’s work is chilling, it’s intense, and such an immediate shock to our system – an adrenaline rush as we are there, very much in the film with this character – and it is such good Horror.
Please remember that this was just as people were rediscovering how good zombies were – 28 Days Later came out two years earlier, opening the floodgates the heyday of zombie films and pop culture as both Dawn and Shaun of the Dead were released in 2004, with many many more to come.
This was a fresh-faced director, not yet disenchanted (or is that deluded…?) by the endless source material that working on a flagship comic book will inevitably bring.
Can We Really Consider Snyder As One of the Worst Movie Directors?
His take on Dawn could have bombed quite easily – with the George A. Romero original having such a huge legacy behind it – but instead it holds up as arguably one of the few worthwhile remakes actually checking out.
04’s Dawn didn’t waste any time developing, or wasting any of its run on unnecessary plot points. It remains a feature that refuses to be anything but toned, and sleek. Snyder’s Dawn of The Dead went out to prove that it was a film that would be brutal and uncompromising from start to finish and still holds up as being precisely that.
Over the next few years, his 300 would smash up the scene too.
300 wasn’t like anything else at the time: another film in Snyder’s career that would be based on a comic book, we were presented with a host of superhumans battling ridiculously over the top odds with cinematic fight scenes that filled the screen like the most addictive of video games. Snyder made a name as a director working in the worlds of others but managing to bring his own flair and beautiful visual taste to the game. Back in the mid-naughties, Zack Snyder was early blood-orgy Peter Jackson, or Sam Raimi, and like both of them eventually deciding to move in to the juggernaut that was/is the Fantasy genre.
Where It Started to Go Wrong for Zack Snyder
Watchmen (2009) – the “unfilmmable” feature, based on Alan Moore’s seminal comic book of the same name, would reveal what we now know Snyder is capable of: an overlong runtime and murky scenes filled with shadow blandness that would seemingly become the filmmaker’s calling card for the following decade.
With his square jaw, rugged good looks, undoubtable wealth and such a dreadful loss of a loved one so close to him, Snyder could well be the alter ego of a comic book creation.
Zack Snyder is only one butler away from being his own Bruce Wayne. And it may be that having such a likeness to this fictional creation is simply too close to home for him to be able to portray it in any interesting way on screen.
Breaking the Curse: Is This The End of His Worst Director Title?
But now, after two and a half major superhero films for DC, a break from that hit-and-miss world can only be good for everyone involved: creatives, and film fans alike. No longer will we have to suffer through two-hour long melodrama-fests with unwritten characters that operate like caped mannequins.
Who knows, this might even give DC the opportunity to become the far lighter company that they always should have been.
A step away from the cookie-cutter filmmaking world of superhero movies can only be good for the director overall too. And while the zombie genre has been shuffling and shambling along in irrelevance for a while now, I hope that this jump back in to the horror will give us the young director that we were so keen on waaaay back in 2004: a gore-hound who cackles and shouts MORE BLOOD! during his action scenes.
Zack Snyder has proven in the past that he can make great films. He’s proven he doesn’t need to be handed the crown of worst movie director. All he has to do now is go back to those roots and salvage a hard-fought for reputation.
Jon Holmes is a writer based in the UK. Alongside his work writing for film, he is a multi-accoladed filmmaker in his own right, and also performs. He can be followed on Youtube at Hans HS and on Twitter on @jonnyjonjon1