If you’re going into a Zack Snyder movie, one thing is certain: it won’t be without ambition. After the filmmaker delivered on his version of Justice League, Snyder’s zombie film Army of the Dead is here, and he went to seriously incredible lengths to immerse its audience in a zombie apocalypse where Las Vegas is overridden with the undead. This inclided redressing a real abandoned Atlantic City casino into Sin City.
Obviously I’ve worked in a lot of green screen stages while working with Marvel. I’ve worked with characters that weren’t there, I’ve acted with tennis balls and I’ve acted with stuffed animals. So any time as a performer, especially when you’re sucked into scenes that just require a lot of intensity, it’s always a luxury to have practical things like that.
Dave Bautista is, of course, talking about his role as Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers movies, where he’s often acting against seas of green screen and characters who are not there. In comparison, Army of the Dead had Zack Snyder going to crazy lengths to build the casino set. He found it super helpful to be in a palpable place, also bringing attention to the actors who depicted the zombies on set, which he called “terrifying.”
Ana de la Reguera, who plays Maria, a mechanic among the team’s group of mercenaries, echoed the cast sentiments about the power of having a real setting to work with. She also shared another interesting aspect of their time on the set with these words:
We were living in the same hotel which was abandoned and we’d just come downstairs to shoot, but that was kind of weird, I was trying to be out of that casino as much as I could. But it was great. It really gave us that environment and it was easier to shoot and imagine everything of course.
The Army of the Dead cast apparently lived on the upstairs level of the desolate Showboat Casino while shooting the movie, adding to the immersion while filming. I mean… how creepy would it be to wake up in the morning and come down to a zombified living situation?
Omari Hardwick, who plays Vanderohe, a soldier and philosopher who's part the heist, was also excited to share his own excitement of working on a practical set. As he shared:
Environment matters. We had an incredible set designer and her team was so pretty freaking amazing, but equally there are those moments where you actually need that thing. And so to be in Atlantic City and to know that is actually what we would’ve been feeling had we been in Las Vegas – it’s priceless to have that.
In other words, the Army of the Dead cast are really amped on Zack Snyder’s vision for the zombie film that will follow his previous contribution to the genre for 2004’s Dawn of the Dead. So far, the movie has received overall positive reactions from audiences as it becomes one of the few Netflix films to hit theaters this weekend ahead of dropping on the streaming service on Friday, May 21.