Monday, June 30, 2008

"Diary of the Dead"(2007)d/George A. Romero

Let me start off by saying that I think it's great to see Romero back in action,directing genre films.The guy's a legend,and a great director of our time.Anyone who doubts it,needs to check out "Martin"(1976) and/or "Dawn of the Dead"(1978) before opening their scrapplehole.Truthfully,I wasn't too amped awaiting Romero's latest venture into zombieland,although I was one of the guys who loved "Land of the Dead"(2006)(since I waited patiently for the director's cut,and totally avoided the neutered theatrical release).I just thought another zombie flick from Romero was tantamount to beating the proverbial dead horse with an aluminum tee ball bat.Then,as the release grew nearer,I sat through ham-fisted zombie crapfests like "Flight of the Living Dead" and "Night of the Living Dead in 3D" and came to a realization.If zombies were going to enjoy a resurgence in the cinema,it may as well be Georgie in the director's chair.Afterall,who knows zombies better than him?
Zombie or average Pennsylvanian,hard to tell.
A group of students who orignally set out to make a low budget horror movie find themselves thrust into what seems to be a zombie epidemic.What follows is a video record of what happens to them as they struggle to reach loved ones,and ultimately,survive the gut-chomping onslaught of the living dead.Through a variety of cameras,cell phone cams,security cameras,and news footage,their finished product is a documenary called "The Death of Death",they document their trip from Pittsburgh to Scranton(!),and finally to the state capital,Harrisburg to drop off friends.Besides the fact that a road trip from Western Pa to Scranton,then back to Harrisburg(for college kids that base their lives in the informational age of the internet and YouTube,you'd think they could have MapQuested their journey more efficiently?)makes very little sense,they have plenty of reanimated cadavers looking to feast upon their living flesh along the way.
That's what you get for going to Scranton.
Besides the ample amounts of social commentary you'd expect in a Romero flick,there are a few tributes to his earlier entries for those who pay attention to such things,and even a cameo from the man himself,as a cop trying to cover up the outbreak at a press conference.The characters themselves,although decent representatives of this generation,aren't exactly people who I'd be sympathetic with,but then I'm not exactly the easiest guy to get along with,so I'm told anyways...The gore is sparsely distributed this time around,and the zombies themselves dress the background for most of the running time,focus being the protagonists' bickering among each other,and fighting to get their footage on the net(!) before they all become ghoul buffet.We've got the obligatory militaristic black survivors with the cache of weaponry and stockpiled goods(explains the innercity riots we get here every so often,doesn't it?Just prepping for the zombie epidemic,officer...)and the moral issues of offing your family member-turned-zombie,but it just feels like leftovers at this point in the game.
Take this intervenous pole and call me in the morning.
So it isn't the flesh-eating ghoul epic of our time,but it stands as a totally watchable and enjoyable piece of genre cinema.FX master Greg Nicotero may use CGI as a crutch a bit too much this time around,but he still manages to create some original pieces of grue for the viewer.The video camera as a seperate inanimate character was interesting enough,if not a popular twist these days,thanks to films like "Cloverfield",but there are some jumpy tense moments and a good deal of atmosphere throughout.I'll always enjoy whatever Romero serves me up,and this flick was no exception.I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that he takes on something else the next time around.The zombie well is pretty dry these days,for ANYBODY.That said,I'm giving Diary:
Pout,baby,pout!I'm not believing you wanting to eat me here...


the jaded viewer said...

All the stuff you mentioned, CGI gore, too much social commentary, POV camera shakiness is why I didn't like Diary. I love Romero and think Night and Dawn are the ultimate zombie classics but we can't give good ratings to this just because it's by zombie god Romero.

beedubelhue said...

Valid point of view,chum.Certainly one I swayed back and forth from while determining how I felt about this latest Romero ghoulapalooza for quite some time.Now,if Georgie boy serves up ANOTHER reheated and microwaved mishmosh of living dead leftovers and expects us not to call out for pizza instead,I'll set the triphammer on him.NOBODY gets a lifetime pass from doing his job in this diabolical world.Especially when it comes to moviemaking in the horror genre we revolve our lives around!


Anonymous said...

This was not what I was expecting, but it was a refresh and something different so I approved. If I remember correctly the CGI was kept to a minimum in the movie, which was acceptable... I can justify a director deciding that a few frame needs some extra blood for effect(though I wish things would go back to hand created effects, tired of the nerd created gore).

beedubelhue said...

Nerd created gore...that's effin' beautiful.


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