Sunday, February 10, 2008

Diary of the Dead

Whoa is me. Today is a sad day. It is with great sadness, and a heavy heart, that I report to you the latest film from George A. Romero, George A. Romero's Diary Of The Dead, is not a very good movie. Bear in mind that I love Dawn of the Dead beyond anything, and I also actually found Land of the Dead to be damn entertaining. So it's worth noting that this is a major misstep backwards for Romero, which is a damn shame.

Diary of the Dead is a major misfire of an idea that should have been cool. It's basically a first person telling of the beginning of the zombie uprising. It's told from home video camera, security camera feeds, and news clips uploaded from "the net". It's similar in execution to Cloverfield, and the results are also quite similar. In fact, I could grab my Cloverfield review, hit Find/Replace on the titles, and you'd have pretty much the same review for Diary of the Dead. And the tragic problem in both pictures? The lead characters.

Once again, we're treated to nameless twenty-something who are the most obnoxious, selfish, moronic people on Earth. Seriously. I don't understand how these movies continue to present the stories of people I can't stand to be around in real life. Their plight just isn't as dramatic, and it takes too long for me to want them to be zombie fodder.

The characters in Diary of the Dead are horrible people AND are uninteresting, to boot. There's the main guy, I think his name is Jason. He never stops filming the events, because he's a true documentary filmmaker, unless it's to upload his images on his MySpace page. (72,000 hits in the past 24 hours!!!). He doesn't even put the camera down when his girlfriend gets attacked by her zombie brother. That's true love for you. The girl isn't any better, as she is the de facto "narrator" of the film, who never lets a moment lie on the screen without commenting on it in the most on the nose fashion possible. Then there's a guy who looks like Karl Urban, but without the nuance. Really made me wish Karl Urban was in this movie.

There are, however, some interesting side characters that make you long for a movie about them instead. There's a group of survivors who are more than happy that they have some power. And there's the greatest Amish character to ever grace the screen. I wanted to watch a movie about him, and only him. The five minutes he shows up in the film made me love the movie. But then it was back to the whiny brats.

I wanted to like this movie a lot. Romero always paints a great, zombie infested world smothered in subtle social satire. This time around, he practically hits you over the head with it. And what he has to say doesn't seem all that fresh. There's also a major fundamental flaw with the flick: It presupposes a world where zombies have never existed. (I assume, because the tool boxes with the cameras were making a mummy movie, that mummies have captured the nation's attention the way zombies have now). A novel idea that's impossible to swallow, due to the work of the man who now presents us this... motion picture experience.

Diary of the Dead is a severely flawed movie that, like the other recent first person footage horror film, works well on paper but fails horribly in execution. While there are a few things to admire (The Amish guy is almost worth the price of admission alone), the concept would work much better with characters who are actually, you know, worth spending your time with. A sad misstep for Romero, but one that makes me think if he were to continue along this way, that something good might come from it.
(Image from a much better zombie movie)

UPDATED: Now HERE'S where the future of Zombie movies should be headed. Not a "rebooting" where nobody knows what a zombie is.


R.BillMountain said...

Dancers, dude. They're zombie dancers.

Formerly, The Dude Spoke said...

You're absolutely right. They're just dancing their way through zombie med school.