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Lunch » Tags » Horror » Reviews » George Romero's Diary of the Dead » User review

Romero's worst effort in his zombie world

  • Jan 31, 2010
  • by
Rating:
-3
 
Romero has been watching too many zombie movies. Yes, I know, that sounds a little weird, the man who practically invented the zombie movie, and who's masterpiece Night of the Living Dead has served as the inspiration for every undead film since is watching too many zombie films? Nonsense you say, crazy says another, what on earth makes me think that? Just look at the Romero of old, from the days of Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead and you'll notice that he doesn't rely on cheap tricks and logical inconsistencies to scare you. He's actually pretty straight forward when it comes to his scares. Here is a list of inconsistencies common to zombie films that Romero has seemed to pick up on.

1. Zombies don't hide and wait for people to stumble upon them to attack, they just attack. In two cases (maybe more but I can only remember two) the people and zombies were in the same building for about ten minutes before the zombies decided to come out of the closet and eat. This never happened in Romero's older movies (okay maybe it happened once in Dawn of the Dead), the zombies acted like zombies there, but in modern zombie films the zombies often times will seem to stalk their prey. Zombies don't hide from people and mount a surprise attack, they just attack.

2. Gory=scary. It doesn't. Gore is always good to have in a zombie movie, but when the gore replaces the scares then we have a problem. Romero's dead films have always been gory, from the comical attempt of Dawn of the Dead with the blue man group trying to break into a mall to Day of the Deads' rubber chicken mixed with pig guts. But both those movies also had a sense of dread going along with them. The unbeatable hordes of zombies, growing steadily every day, slowly breaking down your defenses, moaning for your flesh. Very creepy. Not here though. There is no mounting sense of dread. It's just gore, gore, and more gore.

A team of film students from the University of Pittsburgh are shooting a low budget horror film when news reports of the dead coming to life start coming over the radio. The group splits up but most end up going on a road trip across Pennsylvania to escape the growing number of undead who are roaming the countryside. Jason, the supposed leader of the group, takes it upon himself to film the disaster as it unfolds and put his video on YouTube so that hopefully people will see it and learn how to survive. The film should have been called "Road Trip of the Dead" because that's what it ends up being anyway. First they go here, run into zombies, kill a few and lose a member, only to hit the road again and repeat the process somewhere else, all while Jason films everything. Go here, kill zombies someone dies, go there kill some zombies someone dies. On and one and on and on.

The two biggest problems I found with the film though were the horrible acting, and the lack of believability with the documentary footage. There are no good actors in this film, with the exception of the professor who's drinking and preference to bows and arrows over guns was quite amusing. The narration is annoying and unnecessary, and the rest of the acting is either too much or too little, never the right amount. I found the character Jason to be especially annoying with his refusal to put down that stupid camera under any circumstances. Girlfriends little brother just tried to kill her? Don't help, film it. Zombie horde closing in? Don't help fix the van, film it. At one point one of the girls in the group is being chased by a zombie and he just follows them filming it, and lending no kind of help whatsoever. What a guy. If there are people like this I hope their first to be zombiefied. The film is shot on two hand held cameras documentary style much like Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, but unlike those two films I never believed this was actually a documentary. It's different from those two films because not just the tape, it's edited and narrated, but even the parts which are just the guy filming don't have that documentary feel to it. It felt staged, scripted, not like a documentary should be. It never seemed like this was actual footage. That's what sets this film apart from other documentary style films.

The film had some pretty good ideas going for it, such as the road trip across undead America (all of Romero's previous films had the heroes held up in a fortress of some kind cut off from the outside world) and the news footage which really helped in showing just how the zombie plague was spreading. Got to say I loved the Amish guy who couldn't speak and who everyone thought was a zombie because he could only moan, even if he did just become cannon fodder. This film could have been really good, but alas it seemed like something a college student would make, not a seasoned veteran who's made lots of great films in the past. It was also pretty neat how Romero weaved in elements from Night of the Living Dead (he puts in part of the radio report from that film) and Dawn of the Dead (I didn't' see the guy with the camera filming that part in the apartment complex). The ending though was pretty lame.

I love Romero's films people, heck I even liked Land of the Dead, NO ONE liked Land of the Dead, except me, but even I couldn't give this movie anything more then two stars. I'm a pretty tolerant guy, but this isn't a good film, its preachy, not scary, and has some pretty major flaws.

The closing question this film asks is, are we really worth saving? Well I sure hope so, because if we aren't then nothing is.

Replay value; Low.
 
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February 06, 2010
I vastly prefer this film to LAND OF THE DEAD which I found to be barely tolerable, mostly due to the presence of Dennis Hopper. (It ends with the zombies pulling a Greta Garbo, I vant to be alone. What were they going to eat when they went off and formed their independent society? After all they existed on human flesh.) Romero was making a definite and very valid statement in DIARY. 50% of the footage we see on TV and 75% we see on YouTube wouldn't exist if people didn't act the way the do in DIARY OF THE DEAD. But with DIARY you have to remember that you're dealing with film students who's whole purpose in life is to keep the cameras rolling. When looked at in that light the whole film (including the post production editing) makes perfect sense. If it looked like a student film, it's because it WAS a student film.
 
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So much has been said about DIARY OF THE DEAD already that even attempting to write an in depth review of it at this point would be a waste of my time, and probably yours as well. Thus what you have before you are some rambling comments on the film and at least one of the major complaints I've heard about it.       Like everyone else who refers to him or herself as a horror fan, I love Romero's previous work. Although LAND OF THE DEAD is taking its own sweet time to grow on me …
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Jonathan J.D. Lane ()
Ranked #119
I am a member of the US Air Force and presently serve overseas at RAF Mildenhall about three hours north of London. I grew up in Pappilion Nebraska and Crestview Florida, but since joining the Air Force … more
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Director: George A. Romero
Genre: Horror, Action, Adventure
Release Date: February 15, 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 1hr 35min
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