I love the zombie movie genre. And when I think of what great things can be done on the usual cheap zombie movie budget like a 28 Days Later, or Rec, or Mutants (the French one), it is a shame to see the monumental waste of money on a megabudget zombie movie like this. I’m not saying WWZ wasn’t a good movie. It was a suspenseful, fast paced horror thriller with a cool new idea about zombies (namely, that they can operate like hordes of insects in their rage). But if that’s all you can offer with a gazillion dollar budget and superstar Brad Pitt (of whom I am a fan I might add), I’ll stick with 28 Weeks Later, The Horde, and even Warm Bodies, thank you.
What I mean to say is that WWZ is a shallow hero’s journey without an interesting character that we care about or any character arc that makes us empathize with him. Beyond a basic set up of Brad Pitt having a loving family of wife and two little girls, we know nothing else about this man’s soul to care about him, other than him being a guy who is trying to find the cure. There’s just nothing else to the story. Nothing much to say about it. It left me with an unsatisfied feeling. And that makes it another shallow big budget misuse of a good genre.
What? You may ask. Is there anything BUT a shallow zombie movie? Oh yes indeed. If you don’t know this, you are obviously not educated on the benefits of zombie movies for cultural enhancement and spiritual values. And I am NOT being facetious. So hang in there.
Zombie movies are a powerful genre to explore some rather penetrating ideas about our humanity and our ethics as a society. The basic thematic playground that the genre explores is:
What makes human exceptionalism? How are we different from mere animals? The ethic of survival versus self-sacrifice is played out in a tale of survival against those who have lost their humanity. When humans become consuming machines (Dawn of the Dead), or mindless wasteful youth (Sean of the Dead), or macho militarism without restraint (28 Days Later), or focused on our own survival over others (28 Weeks Later), then that is what denies our human dignity and turns us into mere animals, which leads to our ultimate demise. The actual cause of zombies is usually some kind of virus or bacteria like a human Rabies, but the way the survivors deal with their dilemma reflects the spiritual ramifications of that loss of humanity at large. By exercising the ethic of self-sacrifice is how we as a society will transcend animal nature and be redeemed (like love in Warm Bodies).
For example, 28 Weeks Later has a main character save himself at the expense of his wife, only to be haunted in his conscience by his selfish actions. Meanwhile, throughout the story, we see that what makes us human is our elevation of others above our own survival. Those who act selfishly tend to die, those who sacrifice themselves to save others, often die, but are the humanized redeemed ones.
In this same sense, WWZ is not without its positive traits. For the very drive of Brad Pitt’s character to protect his family, and ultimately the human race is what causes him, and others in the story, to make decisions of self sacrifice for others. It is love that rises above natural instinct.
Zombie movies are not just about survival. They are usually about a conflict of ethics: The evolutionary ethic of survival of the fittest without morality versus the Christian ethic of self sacrifice. They often encourage values that reinforce human exceptionalism. If humans are more than mere animals, then we have to ask ourselves, what is it that makes us so exceptional? How do we transcend mere material animality? Lurking in the background of that question is the ancient answer that has been dismissed, nay despised, by atheism, materialism, naturalism, and the modern Left of the University and politics: That we are created in the image of God.
When you indoctrinate and condition a society to believe that morality is a social construct, that there are no transcendent ethics to which we are accountable because we are just another animal in the great evolving chain of being, then you should not be surprised when you reap the consequences of a society of people acting like zombies.
And that is why Zombie movies are arguments for the existence of God.