Before Zack Snyder spent half a decade building the DCEU, and before he was known for controversial yet equally beloved films such as 300 and Watchmen, the Army of the Dead director cut his teeth in the zombie genre.
Released in 2004, Dawn of the Dead — a remake of George A. Romero’s genre-defining 1978 film — was Snyder’s directorial debut and almost instantly became a cult classic. In fact, there are many who maintain it remains his best film.
Snyder has lived what feels like a handful of lifetimes since then, going through both the personal and professional ringer in the process. Not only are his films inherently divisive, but there was, of course, the Snyder Cut saga — a virtual four-year, uphill battle waged in an effort to get his version of Justice League to the fans. Not to mention, all of this was following the tragic passing of his daughter, Autumn.
With all that in mind, Snyder purposely returning to the genre that kickstarted his career — returning home, if you would — feels like a conscious choice. As if he intentionally sought out the comfort of the genre that helped launched his livelihood. And while that may not exactly be the case, Snyder told our Post-Credit Podcast, he certainly enjoyed the process all the same:
BroBible: You bring up a great point about Army of the Dead being a full circle, which leads me to what I want to ask next, Zack. Was there a sense of catharsis in returning to the genre that started at all for you? And did you make that choice on purpose?
Zack Snyder: Yeah, I mean, not 100%, I didn’t think about it in this sort of global way or with perspective on my career, or my emotional place.
BB: It’s been a busy few years, that’s why I asked.
ZS: No, it totally makes sense. I guess it just felt like a thing that I was interested in, and I had a lot of enthusiasm for, so in talking to Netflix and them saying, “Hey, we think this is a cool idea.” I was like, “It is a cool idea. Sure, let’s do it, when you want to do it?” They’re like, “Right now.” And I was like, ‘Right now. Okay, fine.”
And then Shay Hatten and I just wrote the script really quick — we rewrote it from zero. We had a [old] script, but I didn’t even look at it, I just restarted again from page one and just rewrote the whole thing. And I just really got energized by the process. And then that also led to my desire to shoot the movie myself and operate, and just really connect sort of with cinema again, I guess. Even making Justice League, your distance from the camera is pretty great — like the way when you make a giant, blockbuster superhero movie, the cast is somewhere over there, you know? So for me, it was really nice to make this sort of organic movie.
BB: So even for you, despite the fact that it’s Netflix, and zombies, and Vegas, and this big affair, it felt small scale?
ZS: Yeah, it felt really small and intimate and a real organic experience. And that was fun because, even though it does feel like a giant world, and actually, we made it where I was like, “Okay, well, we know we have this huge element of zombies. We have this huge element of destroyed Vegas,” which is these two worlds don’t exist, you can’t just go film those things, right? So, we knew we were going to have to manufacture all of that, which is the thing I’m comfortable with. It’s not weird, but it does take resources to do that, you know? And so, I just wanted to make sure the crew, and the way we shot it — we kept control over that, kept it small and intimate.
Make sure to check out our full interview with Zack Snyder, which will be releasing on the Post-Credit Podcast later today. Also, go see Army of the Dead when it hits theaters on Friday, May 14 and Netflix on Friday, May 21.