Instead of being a rote remake of the first movie, Dawn of the Dead is a highly original follow up to the first film because the filmmakers decided to forge their own path for the film, whether it was being dubbed a remake or not. The film marked Snyder’s feature film debut and was based upon a script from eventual Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn.
Snyder thought it was important to shift the overall theme and tones of the film, even though the messaging was part of what had made Romero’s version such a standout, because the concept of mass consumerism as a movie metaphor was simply old news by then. “When Romero made his movie, mass consumerism was a really fresh topic,” Snyder explained to FFC. “People were more unaware that they were living in a mass consumerist society, but now, man, if people don’t know we’re living in a commercial, a cynically commercial society now, a movie ain’t gonna wake you up to it.”
Meanwhile, Gunn revealed in a recent Twitter thread that when he first approached the process of scripting Dawn of the Dead, which was before Snyder was hired to direct, Gunn decided, “Why redo it?” Instead of drawing too much from Romero’s vision, Gunn decided the only carryover elements should be “the mall and the zombies and that’s about it as far as the plot goes.” Even though Gunn grappled with a vicious online film community’s skepticism about him remaking a Romero film, he eventually won them over with his terrifying script and, of course, the gripping final product.