Dawn of the Dead

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Dawn of the Dead Movie Poster Image
Extremely gory horror movie; not for kids.
  • R
  • 2004
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 29 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
Positive Role Models & Representations

In the "Unrated Director's Cut," there are attempts to, pardon the pun, flesh out the characters, but no one really stands out as anything more than a stock character. 


Zombies move much faster than the lumbering zombies commonly seen in films like these; they bite the throats of their victims, are covered in blood and the remnants of body parts, and are continually being shown getting shot in the head by humans with shotguns. When a newborn baby is born as a zombie (which is not shown), there's the sound of a gunshot to signify that the baby has been killed. A character is impaled in the head with a spike. Another character is stabbed in the eye. Early in the film, when the zombies first start to appear, a panicked character is run over by an ambulance. 


While two of the characters are hiding from the zombies in the shopping mall, they pass the time  by having sex. At the end of the film, a camcorder shows quick flashes of one of the characters before the zombie attacks, hanging out on his boat with various naked women. 


"Motherf---ers." "Faggot." "F--k." "F--king." "S--t." "Tap that s--t." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the characters decides to fill the empty hours of waiting and hiding out from the zombies by drinking and smoking cigarettes. This character frequently appears drunk in the film. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this 2004 Dawn of the Dead is an extremely violent remake of George A. Romero's 1978 horror film of the same name. Perhaps the violence should come as no surprise, since this is, after all, a zombie film. Expect lots of blood, bites to the throat, vast armies of zombies shot in the head by shotguns, as well as moments of gore like eye stabbings and a head impaled with a spike. There's also considerable profanity, and some of the characters fill the empty hours of hiding out in the shopping mall from the zombies waiting outside by drinking and having sex. While this film delivers what horror fans want and expect from the genre -- including zombies moving at a much faster, more aggressive pace than typically seen in zombie movies -- for younger viewers and people who aren't horror fans, he violence and gore will be too much. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRaritysfans August 1, 2020

Black Friday

This movie is the foresight of 2020 and the 2010s Black Friday craze. Of course lots of zombie gore and a mall. If you love this and the 1978 version watch Dan... Continue reading
Adult Written bychristian2011 May 18, 2012

Mature Audience only Zombie film.

Dawn of the Dead is an extremely bloody/gory zombie horror film which shows the main character Ana, whom escapes with other survivors and find theirselves prote... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byconnorfarthing99 August 8, 2013

Pretty Good

A well made, exciting zombie film. One of the best that I've seen (I haven't seen many zombie movies) and not too excessive on the gore.

If your chil... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 21, 2020


I liked it a lot, although it may not be appropriate for under 13. There are around like 2-3 sex scenes, I think I remember a breast being shown, and there are... Continue reading

What's the story?

A remake of George A. Romero's 1978 zombie film, DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004), begins much the same as the original. For unknown reasons, people across the country are turning into bloodthirsty, animated corpses with rotting visages only an undertaker could love. The morning after the outbreak of a mysterious "virus," an unlikely group of humans still capable of thought and speech converge on an empty shopping mall outside Milwaukee to escape the marauding zombies, who were until then the friends, families, neighbors of the survivors. As they fortify their defenses against the peril outside the mall walls, they must also face the threats they pose to one another. Unspecified days pass in a haze of mall enjoyment and zombie sniping until the remaining survivors opt to make a break for the nearby marina in order to escape by boat to a hopefully deserted island in Lake Michigan.

Is it any good?

This remake of George A. Romero's 1978 sequel to Night of the Living Dead soups up the zombies, cranks up the gross factor to 11, and has a lot of cheeky in-jokes about its predecessor. In comparison with the original, out are the shrieking blondes and rampaging looters, in are smart, controlled Ana (Sarah Polley as a believable nurse not afraid to wield a fire poker) and Kenneth (Ving Rhames), who is exactly the kind of cop you want walking beside you if you are facing scores of the undead.

The zombies are a bit spryer in this film, and the pregnancy of one of the main characters is not the life-giving promise it was in the first movie. But the ending is what differs most from the original. If you're a fan of the horror genre, then this flick is a welcome, if derivative, fright-fest in the school of Romero's classics.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different approaches taken by the survivors and the range of choices that they make. Are there times when the moral answer is at odds with the instinct to survive? 

  • If you've seen the original 1978 Dawn of the Dead, how do you think this version compares? 

  • Why do you think movies and books about the undead are so popular? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror

Themes & Topics

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