THE WALKING DEAD “Days Gone By” Review

The Walking Dead (AMC) Days Gone By

THE WALKING DEAD “Days Gone By” Season 1 Episode 1- There is something about putting a bullet into the head of a little girl that just sets the tone for a show. It says: this is not for everyone. We get that, and if you don’t like this, change the channel ’cause things only go downhill from here.

Rick Grimes has a problem. Hospitalized after being shot on duty, the Sheriff’s Deputy wakes up to find the world has he knows it gone. Zombies have infested the place.

These zombies are not the usual zombies we see in scary movies. That is, they’re not monsters with super strength and speed who punch through concrete walls and climb buildings. They basically have rabies. The zombies themselves are scary, but they are scary in the way thieves or teachers are scary. What is truly terrifying about these zombies are that Rick and his rescuer Morgan and his son know these zombies. Morgan’s wife is one of them. Rick’s fellow police officer is another.

The plot is pretty simple: Rick is saved by Morgan and his son. He takes them to the police station where they get weapons and ammo. Then they split, Morgan and his son return home to hone their marksmanship, Rick heads to Atlanta in search of his own family. That’s it.

With Frank Darabont, the mastermind behind Shawshank Redemption, more is not necessary. More would be clunky. Darabont-and anyone who has seen Shawshank knows this-is a master at creating atmosphere: Rick’s walk through the garish hospital, Morgan’s devastating attempts to shoot his wife, the buddy talk over French fries and women at the beginning. Nothing is rushed, and because we’ve all been spoon fed on horror movies thriving on shock rather than story, the anticipation swells but the pace rarely hurries.

The Walking Dead has already managed to cop out of making the Grimes’ relationship seem believable by revealing their troubled marriage. I just hope that it manages to stay firmly out of the realm of melodrama with the whole ‘wife cheating with his partner’ storyline.

As Rick Grimes, Andrew Lincoln brings intensity to his performance. He is compelling to watch, especially in the beginning, but I was more interested in Morgan’s story than Rick’s. Lennie James’s Morgan was an emotional club. Watching him sift through photo albums and sliding the chair in front of the window was just gutting.

The visuals were amazing, especially the desolate Atlanta and, of course, the zombies themselves. There was no hint of the show getting bogged down with CGI. And, judging from the intercom voice in the army tank, next week we’ll be meeting some more characters with-gasp-a potential sense of humor.

I think AMC has continued on its streak of compelling, original shows. What did you make of this show? Sound off in the comments below!

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