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A zombie apocalypse in Las Vegas

Story was inspired by director Zack Snyder’s children

AFTER 17 years, American film director Zack Snyder returns to the world of zombies in Army of the Dead which premieres on Netflix this month.

Mr. Snyder wrote the story of Army of the Dead after directing the action horror Dawn of the Dead (2004). Announced in 2007, the project endured 12 years of delayed development until Netflix acquired distribution rights in 2019. The final iteration of the story was co-written with Shay Hatten and Joby Harold.

Army of the Dead takes place in Las Vegas which was left in ruins following a zombie outbreak. Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a displaced Vegas local and former zombie war hero who is now flipping burgers on the outskirts of the town, is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada). Ward is presented with a proposition: break into the zombie-infested quarantine zone to retrieve $200 million sitting in a vault beneath the strip, before the city is nuked by the government in 32 hours. Driven by the hope to reconcile with his estranged daughter Kate (Ella Purnell), Ward takes on the challenge, assembling a ragtag team of experts for the heist. But things go south for Ward when Kate joins the search for Geeta (Huma Qureshi), a mother who has gone missing inside the city.

At an online meeting with press from Asia on May 6 held via Zoom, Mr. Snyder said that he had fun writing an original story on a zombie apocalypse.

“It’s really a chance for me to create a world. I think that getting the chance to strike this world from scratch was fun. I really think for an audience, you’re going to get to go into a zombie world you’ve never seen before,” Mr. Snyder said.

  The core of the movie, Mr. Snyder said, is the father-daughter relationship between Scott Ward and Kate. The director draws inspiration from experiences with his own children.   

“Your children can hurt you with a word, but they can also bring you joy. Your greatest pain can come from your children… I just bought all of that pain and joy into writing this relationship between Scott and Kate,” he said.

Whether the film is watched for pure entertainment, enjoyed for the heist element, studied for mythological representation or social commentary, is up to the viewer.

“It depends on the viewer. The movie is custom-made for viewers of all kind[s],” Mr. Snyder said of possible audience takeaways.

The cast includes Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Samantha Win, Garret Dillahunt, Nora Arnezeder, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Richard Cetrone, and Michael Cassidy.

“My approach to it was [that] I wanted to make a big, giant movie for you, regardless,” Mr. Snyder, who is also the film’s director of photography, said of his directing approach.

As for interesting Easter eggs to watch out for in the film, Mr. Snyder confirmed that he does a cameo. “It’s a very tricky moment. But, I’m in there,” he said.

Army of the Dead will be available on Netflix on May 21. Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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