I never thought I’d like zombies, until I started watching the Resident Evil movies. Those really edge more into traditional science fiction, with a lot of focus on Alice and her world, and super slick cool FX. I wandered into a Walking Dead marathon a couple of years ago and then picked up the thread of new eps. While the focus there is heavily on the living characters and their travails and triumphs, there is a lot of hideously gross gore. Gritty and gutsy, instead of slick (except with putrefying walker blood). Okay. There’s a place for everything.

And then there’s World War Z.

I found that one fascinating, as a viewer and someone who writes screenplays. Here’s a big bad box office zombie movie I expected to be sort of a cross between Resident Evil and The Walking Dead. Instead, I found myself drawn into a war movie. Seriously.

I also found it thoroughly heartbreaking and more terrifying  than any other zombie anything I’ve ever seen. Not the zombies themselves. I was intrigued by the way the camera didn’t linger on obsessively closeup, in your face, here be zombies shots. The undead were terrifying swarms of relentless hunger, but it was the concept of how fast the outbreak happened and escalated that sent me mentally hiding under my bed.
We live in a world plagued by fear. Most of our boogey men are all too real. Threats against our daily lives, way of life, and physical well being are literally everywhere, coming at us from near and far. A really scary thought is that we as a culture turn to the horrifying fantasy of a zombified world as a major form of entertainment. Relief from the real world.

As long as it’s fantasy, though….it’s all good. An escape into an impossible reality much worse than the real one.

Then along comes World War Z, an extremely realistic, terrifying what if. To me it played out exactly like any other war movie. The ones with hope at the end, anyway. Those tend to be about events that have occurred in the past. That’s what World War Z felt like to me. The story of Brad Pitt going up against a new threat. An enemy not human and not familiar. And all the more terrifying for it.

When I’d finished watching it, I felt sort of like I did at the end of Saving Private Ryan. I wasn’t there, but it felt as if I had been at the heart of a brutal, hard fought war. It was so well done that it made me keep thinking about a zombie outbreak as a more real possibility than I’d ever considered  before.

To me that’s the hallmark of a movie well done. Storytelling well done. Intelligent terror so well done that it just may have left me slightly uneasy about the possibility that make believe, the root of all fictional storytelling, may not actually be as unbelievable as we’d all prefer to believe.

That, to me, is great storytelling.

World War Z Official Trailer HD