In your head, in your head they are fighting..."
~Zombie, The Cranberries
Was thinking about zombie flicks today. What's their appeal? I'm no gorehound, and most zombie flicks are poorly made, yet they still attract me. Why? I think it comes down to one of the reasons I like film in general. Specifically, I like stories that consolidate problems.
When I was diagnosed with cancer during my teens, and shipped off to the hospital, I recall being filled with a surprising sense of relief. I no longer had to worry about my job, my chores, my bills, my errands, my relationships, or any of the hundreds of little things that divide our minds every day. My many concerns had been traded for a single concern: cancer. It was a gigantic concern, but being singular made it far more manageable. A bulldog clinging to my leg, rather than a thousand ants all over.
That's something I like about movies. The hero may be faced with horrors far worse than anything I deal with, but his problems always boil down to one or two concerns, so it's a relief for me to step into his shoes for awhile. "Chased by orcs for two hours? Yeah, I'd prefer that to wading through this stack of bills while cooking dinner and returning phone calls." I imagine sports and video games work on the same principle: they back-burner every concern in your head but One.
The zombie flick is the epitome of this. In no other genre are the problems of so many reduced so quickly to ONE. In other films, while the protagonist struggles to get the girl or win the big game, we suppose that the rest of the world is still wrapped up in the plethora of troubles that plague us all. Not so in zombie flicks. While Our Guy is booking down the street away from an army of flesh-eaters, we may safely assume that the rest of the planet is doing much the same thing. It's the easiest genre to vicariously occupy, because the story presumes to affect every human being alive. It's a party and we're ALL invited! Swap your woes at the door for one woe that trumps them all: zombies want to eat you.