Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Overthinking A Plate Of Brains

with one comment

I have written about zombies and velocity before but I haven’t written as much as Christopher Thorne. He’s just published ‘The Running Of The Dead’, a 9,000 word essay on the political philosophy of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, Zack Synder’s Dawn Of The Dead and fast zombies. Admittedly, the first 2,000 words of this essay is a rather sloppy introduction to Hobbes but then we get to his moment of epiphany after watching Synder’s remake of George A Romero’s 1978 classic:

I was completely wrong. It turns out that up-shifting the zombies from slow to fast changes everything; it entirely re-frames the zombie movie as a genre. I find this utterly fascinating. It seems like a small change, little more than a tweak, like defragmenting your hard drive. And it leaves nothing untouched.

To condense his argument absurdly: slow zombies are about the fear of the state and society whereas fast zombies are about fear of the absence of the state and society (hence Hobbes). Over the final half of the essay, Thorne then contends that 28 Days Later deliberately subverts this:

the movie that for all intents and purposes created fast zombies, was already the movie that demystified them. The subgenre stands permanently indicted by its own author and source. Boyle’s movie is not the progenitor to [REC] and Quarantine and the Dawn remake and Justin Cronin’s vampire-zombie novel The Passage; it is their accuser, the one that calls them out on their despotism and aufgehobener race-hate.

It is an enjoyable if strained and rather hasty essay. (Via MetaFilter which has additional discussion.)

Written by Martin

7 September 2010 at 16:12

Posted in criticism, films

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. Yes, it’s a really enjoyable article. I think one issue that leaps out in Zombie films is that the infected don’t attack each other. If they did, the outbreak would be self-limiting. In real life a rage virus would be strongly self-limiting. We are not all rabid.

    Now, OK, that’s the requirement of making a narrative. As a political allegory, I think it shows the flaw. The flaw going right back to Hobbes actually. People united in co-operation are stronger than those who fight each other. The king/ ruling elite are threatened by the co-operation of the ruled, not by their inability to co-operate. In a state of nature, those who make a pact not to attack each other are stronger. The people will unite themselves, and do not need to have authority imposed on them.

    Zombie films ‘cheat’ by giving us ravaging inhuman mobs who inexplicably spare each other with complete altruism. I’m not criticising the premise, just commenting on it’s failure as an allegory.


    8 September 2010 at 10:07

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