Review: Diary of the Dead

Diarrhea of the Dead

(contains minor spoilers)

I wanted to do a review of the Pang brother’s 2006 film, Re-Cycle but unfortunately I couldn’t find the damn thing so I just fell back onto the next best thing: another zombie flick. A Romero flick, no less. Fans of Romero lately have kind of grown cankerous. Especially since Romero’s last effort, Land of the Dead, divided hardcore fans and critics alike. Will the latest Dead flick follow the trend? Find out after the jump…

Suffice to say, this isn’t one of George A. Romero’s best movies but it is a good title in the Dead series. Personally, I would have to go with Dawn as the magnum opus of the series but that is just mere opinion. Anyway, Diary’s plot revolves around a band of college students from the University of Pittsburgh filming their own undead zombie/mummy flick. However, around them, the structures of the world are degrading as the dead actually begin to rise.

Shot like a fake documentary and narrated by Debra (Michelle Morgan), the cameraman’s headstrong girlfriend. The movie documents the progressive effects of the uprising of the recently deceased. UnlikeHey, where's Scooby? previous zombie flicks where the infected only become zombies, anybody who dies without contact from a zombie becomes a zombie anyhow. Yeah, it sucks but so does having your brain fried with defibrillators post-mortem.

Speaking of which, the kills in this movie are quite creative. I won’t spoil them for you (except the one I just mentioned, oops…) but Romero’s flicks tend to have some great executions on film, whether it be in Land or Day. So, if you’re a fan of Romero’s work just for the stylistic snuffing, you will not be disappointed. However, the gore in this movie in comparison to past iterations is minimal. Sure, there are some blood splattery here and there but don’t expect buckets of blood ala Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. (Another movie I must recommend.)

George mentioned in a couple of interviews that Diary was sort of a kick-start to the Dead series, indicating that Diary was going to be the Night of the Living Dead of the new era. While I like the tenacity, I happen to disagree. Although this movie is intriguing, I don’t think it’d be the hallmark of a new Dead trilogy. (However, Night did receive a lot of mixed criticisms when it was first released so I might eat my words later.)

For instance, the acting in some spots is a little wooden. Little emotion is felt through the characters as if they have been through this same thing before. I don’t know if that was the intention because of shellshock or what but it just didn’t feel right with the overall theme of the world becoming a disaster zone. The only two characters I admired was Debra and the old professor, Andrew Maxwell (Scott Wentworth), who is just a total badass with his archery skills.

Stab

Debra really carried the whole movie with her due to her being at odds with her boyfriend, Jason (Joshua Close), the ambitious and excessively opportunistic filmmaker who films the majority of what happens in the movie. It’s a good thing too because if I was there, I would smack Jason in the face with the camera for not helping people while they we’re in distress. Because of this though, his character was executed surprisingly well considering how irritating the character was throughout the film

Shoot the Dead!The character Jason was probably the embodiment of the obligatory social commentary in the movie. Like every Dead film before it, there is an underlying, somewhat cynical, message about what’s taking place. Dawn of the Dead, for example, was about rampant consumerism while Land was about elitism within the current administration. Diary takes a jab (at times, unfairly so) at the culture of blogging and online social networking.

Not to say Romero’s commentary doesn’t have merit. A lot of people would rather sit in the sidelines, handi cams fully charged, ready to shoot the next tragedy that comes their way. Perhaps this was the message that was to be conveyed about our indifferent attitudes and how we would rather rubber neck and accident than go out and help.

In the end though, Romero’s latest effort is pretty damn decent. Sure, it’s not like the glory days of Dawn where we get to see buckets of Savini’s hyper-contrast blood plastered on the screen, but Romero still has the ambition and talent of conveying a message through a simple medium like the zombie genre, whether it be about consumerism, obesity, or high gas prices.

Yeah, you know what? I am going to pitch that idea for this next movie. Fuel of the Dead. When there is no more oil, the dead will dry up the earth!

Rating: 3.5/5

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