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Diary of the Dead (2008)

  Tags: blood, diary of the dead, george a. romero, gore, Joe Dinicol, Joshua Close, Michelle Morgan, Phillip Riccio, Scott Wentworth, Shawn Roberts, undead, walking dead, Zombie Movies

Your rating: None Average: 5.9 (21 votes)
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George A. Romero
95 minutes
Joshua Close, Michelle Morgan, Shawn Roberts, Joe Dinicol, Phillip Riccio, Scott Wentworth

Announced over a year ago, this film was supposed to be George Romero's return to his low-budget zombie roots. After working on more mainstream films, and the fourth installment in the Dead series, the thought of George going old school was very enticing for fans such as myself. Although Land of the Dead had many faults, it was still an entertaining watch and it was nice to see the man workin' with zombies again. No connection to the previous Dead films, Diary introduces an all new zombie outbreak, this time shown through the eyes of a group of survivors via the point of view of an expensive video camera. Aside from remakes and needless sequels, the POV story-telling aspect seems to be the new thing in Hollywood, and I suppose George just wanted to jump on the bandwagon.

Before Romero took a stab at the zombie survivalist POV aspect, there was a low-budget UK film entitled Zombie Diaries, which gave us the first glimpse at a POV outbreak. Zombie Diaries introduced some interesting ideas and actually offered a couple somewhat creepy scenes. Sadly, it also had its share of problems, especially when it came down to the climax. Coming from the man that started it all, I was hoping that George would deliver a solid new addition to his zombie library, but it seems that my high hopes ultimately made me more disappointed with the end result. Romero may have started the zombie genre craze, but he's no directorial maestro by any means. Aside from the Dead films and maybe a couple of his early work, the rest of his efforts were mediocre at best.

The story for Diary is a simple one -- a group of young college filmmakers are in the outskirts to film a cheesy low-budget mummy movie, when they realize that the city has been overrun by the walking dead, and it's apparently spreading throughout the country and even the globe. They attempt to survive the outbreak while traveling around in their camper, making pit stops here and there, depending on the situation. Their entire journey is documented with a camcorder. Along the way they make edits and upload the video online for all to see.

I'm not a big fan of the original NOTLD, but I loved Dawn and really enjoyed Day. Land was entertaining, while Diary of the Dead is probably my least liked zombie flick from Romero. The ideas were there, but they were all just poorly executed. The characters were unrealistic and annoying (much like most of the dialogue), and when we weren't shown pointless clips "uploaded on the internet," we were drowned with social commentary every few minutes. To top things off, we have this horrible Sarah Connor-type narration from one of the female leads that offers nothing more than a cheap and easy way to move the story along without having to explain much.

Usually these POV films give us realism that regular features don't, however, Diary isn't one of those films. Despite being shot in the POV of the camera, the footage itself is actually pretty clean and almost movie-quality, which kind of defeats the purpose. Sadly, the issues don't stop there, as the script is also full of plot-holes, but I won't dwell on all of the film's faults. This isn't a horrible movie -- the zombie deaths were pretty good (my fav. being the acid-death), however, the film surprisingly isn't very gory. Unlike zombies in recent films, these were your standard Romero slow-walkers, except for one that leaped in the air to grab hold of one of the leads. A sequel is supposedly already in the works, but I for one am not in a hurry to see it.

My least favorite of Romero’s zombie films. I wanted to like this, but I just couldn't. The ideas were there, but the execution was just poor, along with most of the dialogue and story-telling. To top things off, the film doesn't even deliver that realistic look that most POV features do. Regardless, the zombies were decent and their deaths were probably the best aspects of the film. There was also some okay comedy thrown in various bits of the flick (loved the Amish dude). If you're a fan of Romero, then give this a check, but don't expect a lot, because you'll be sorely disappointed, as I was.

Posted on July 16, 2009 - 3:20am | FrighT MasteR