Op-Ed by Janet Phelan
The “Zombie Apocalypse” movies present a scenario in which part of the human race has morphed into flesh-consuming predators. It falls upon the unaltered, those still ostensibly human and non-predator, to restore the world and its people back to “normality,” back to a situation wherein predatory and altered humans are either extinguished or changed back to humans.
Often the genesis of alteration from human to flesh-eating zombie is ascribed to an act of science-gone-wrong, as in the case of the film, I Am Legend. At the outset of this 2007 film, we see a clip of an interview with a well-intentioned scientist, whose efforts at genetic manipulation, intending to cure cancer, end up causing the zombie outbreak.
Besides providing fast-paced entertainment and an adrenaline rush, what do the Zombie Apocalypse movies actually reveal? They present us with a world where the human population has been divided in two—predator and prey—and prey must find a way both to survive and to return the world back to a semblance of normality.
Subtly, the situations presented in these movies more and more resemble contemporary Western society. No, we don’t experience hordes of fanged and grunting zombies, blood dripping from their mouths, eating our neighbors and friends as we flee for our lives. Not exactly, anyway. The predation is not so apparent.