Stars: Michelle Morgan, Josh Close, Shawn Roberts, Amy Lalonde, Joe Dinicol, Philip Riccio, Chris Violette, Tatiana Maslany
Writer: George Romero
Dir: George Romero
George once again wants to warn us about the dangers technology and progress pose to us. And he hit it well in the very middle of this film… but he dropped the ball at the beginning and end.Uncle George decided to jump into the first-person camera angles with “Diary of the Dead,” and attempted to do it better than others. Since “Cloverfield” had already become a huge hit, as well as the terrible “The Blair Witch Project,” Romero was too many years too late to be inventive. The beginning of the film is tough to make it through. A handful of college students are awkwardly stumbling through a “senior project,” where a group of students are in the woods filming a short horror film. Their director, Jason Creed (Close) refuses to stop filming as his players hear radio and TV reports of an undead uprising — including many of the same 1968 TV and radio reports from the original “Night of the Living Dead.”
That is where the film lost me. Any audience member who has logged time with the Romero zombies is instantly taken out of this film and realizes this film is supposed to take place at the same time as “Night of the Living Dead.” Yet, the protagonists have cameras, the Internet, and more access to and knowledge of technology than Barbara, Ben, and Johnny.
WTF, George? Do not do a reboot of a classic, just continue the story. I mean, you could not have done any worse than “Land of the Dead.” Could you?
George steamrolls ahead with a “documentary” effect, making Debra, (Morgan) the girlfriend of the primary filmmaker, narrate certain parts and tell the audience early on that she “added music for effect” and completed the film because the student director would have wanted it that way, a terrible attempt at foreshadowing. Also, Romero seems to have jumped into stereotypes for his film rather than breaking the barriers: the “brothers” talk ghetto, the college students say “dude” a lot, and the “filmmaker” has to complete each and every shot, no matter the fate of his friends. Again, the attempt at realism smacks the audience awake and out of it.
The pseudo-documentary effect never works. In fact, weak performances distract from the desired effect. There are some great moments, however. A sequence involving a deaf Amish farmer and the dissolving head of an infiltrating zombie are highlights to a rather by-the-numbers and frustrating film.
Romero Rules Followed: Many references are made to Romero zombies, including an early-on joke about how the dead “shamble” rather than run. All of Romero’s rules are followed here.
Gore factor: Fairly high, and, on two occasions, inventive.
Zombies or Wannabees? Zombies
Classic, fine, or waste of time: Fine
Additional comments: Some highlights feature Stephen King and Guillermo Del Toro in radio reports; with King as an overzealous preacher screaming for penance and Del Toro commenting on immigration woes. I see what George was going for: If there was an apocalyptic outbreak, more people would sit on their asses and watch from their TVs or online, rather than react. However, the edict that mankind is more detached than ever has already been driven home. We get it. George Carlin told us that the more we are connected, the more we communicate less. I understand that Romero wanted to demonize bloggers, the media and the Internet in general as a land of misinformation and escapism. He might have slammed it home without the documentary-style gimmick and better actors.
He also should have not attempted to reboot his franchise in the modern era. Stupid, stupid move.