Jason Axxin (director)
04 October 2021 (released)
05 October 2021
The importance of George A Romero´s Night of the Living Dead to horror and cinema in general has been well documented over the years. Suffice to say its standing will not be diminished by remakes, colourisations or any other tomfoolery that people may decide to do to it. It is pretty much indestructible. Which actually gives filmmakers some flexibility.
This animated version sticks very closely to the film which will please the purists at the same time as highlighted in the excellent supporting featurette that there are other things that can be done to differentiate from the original. That is the use of colour so the film becomes that more graphic regarding the bloodletting and violence.
But more interestingly are the subtle additions that broaden the film. We now see the diner which wasn’t featured in the film. However it’s at the end that the most telling change is when Ben (Dulé Hill) is killed (Spoiler? Sorry this film is now fifty years old). The film ended there. Here it carries on a bit longer to deal with the aftermath.
Up until then the animation generally follows the film (although it is a good twenty minutes or so shorter) almost to the frame successfully. Much of that is down to the excellent actors from Johnny (Jimmi Simpson) taunting Barbara (Katharine Isabelle) at the beginning to Harry Cooper’s (Josh Duhamel) descent into the cellar and hell. Doubly scared by the two unknowns of the zombies gathering around the house and this stranger Ben asserting himself with intelligence and logic. Also in the house are couple Tom (James Roday Rodriguez) and Judy (Katee Sackhoff)
The key casting is Hill who takes the to the role of Ben with perfect pitch as he tries to keep a hold and make some sense of the situation they are in. However the cast as an ensemble absolutely capture the density of the original, the panic and confusion.
The animation is not what you’d generally expect from DC Animation being almost crude in its depiction of the situations and characters with the colours grungy enough which lets director Jason Axxin remain relatively true to the rough and ready production of the original.
As mentioned the single extra is a good one; an efficient rundown of the ideas behind the film, the creation and the casting. It has the required reverence from the creators though they are not backward in coming forward about the changes and additions they made in the animation and why.