aka: The Death of Death
Director: George Romero
Starring: Michelle Morgan, Joshua Close, Shawn Roberts, Amy Lalonde, Joe Dincol
Shoot the dead
A group of film students is shooting a horror movie for their class project. While shooting, the news of murders, riots and chaos is received and the group packs up their stuff and hits the road to find safety. The director of the short film, Jason, decides that everything needs to be documented so he keeps the camera on at all times to film everything that is happening on their journey.
Not only did we get Land of the Dead in 2005 after twenty years of waiting for a new Romero zombie movie, but we get another one only two years later! I guess the zombie craze of the 2000’s had some good parts to it after all! Diary is kind of the opposite of Land in most ways. Diary is a low budget indie production and instead of slick looks it rather goes for the point of view / handheld camera visual.
A lot of people dislike this type of camera look. I’ve been mostly positive towards it if the filmmakers know what they are doing, and Romero does a fine job in making it work for this movie. The big reason why Jason feels the need to document everything is because early in the movie they see that the media has presented an altered videotape that did not show the truth regarding the first zombie outbreak. On a more personal note he is able to detach himself from what is going on by hiding behind the camera.
The topic of the untrustworthy media and their exploitation of our dark side is a huge topic throughout the movie. The same with why we humans have this dark love of the macabre and satisfy it by looking at others misery and hurt. Romero is usually the master of doing stuff like this in his movies without letting it take away from the entertainment. Here however he uses a lot of the dialogue time to hit us in the head with his thoughts and it can become too much and even “preachy” at times.
Even though it is done on a low budget, it does have some gore. It is mostly done with CGI, which I am not a big fan of when it looks obvious that it is in fact CGI, but there are some scenes that work including a scene where a zombie has his head burned by acid. The zombies also generally look alright here and they are the so-called old school zombies with no evolvement like Big Daddy in Land or Bub in Day. The zombies also isn’t the main focus in the movie and I guess that’s why none of that was really needed here.
There is also some comedy, most obviously represented by a mute Amish guy who goes into almost a Rambo mode. I think it could have been toned down a little in that sequence, but it also makes me wonder if a horror/comedy Amish of the Dead zombie film could work. Guess I should email that idea to Weird Al. The acting is ok and nothing spectacular. All of the actors, except the professor, are young and unknown actors. All of them seems to still be active in the movie and TV business to this day, so that shows that they did pick out some talent for this movie.
Diary of the Dead is above average on practically all parts, but it doesn’t invent the zombie wheel again and doesn’t bring enough fresh ideas to the table. It also has an ending that didn’t really feel like the end of the movie which also hurt the film and I also wish the characters where a little more upset about the fact that the zombies are taking over, although that could also be a choice by Romero, showing how desensitized the youth of today has become. Diary of the Dead is a good zombie movie and I consider it to be better than Land and most other new zombie movies, but it is no competitor against Romero’s original Dead trilogy.