Author Topic: Diary of the Dead  (Read 1568 times)

Najemikon

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Diary of the Dead
« on: August 16, 2008, 07:09:59 PM »
Diary of the Dead
4 out of 5


George A. Romero returns to the roots of his zombie saga with film students filming their own horror movie as the outbreak starts. The cameraman continues filming as he and his friends discover more about the disaster.


Supposedly genuine footage forms the story. Yawn. Blair Witch tried it, Cloverfield almost nailed it. Does one of the godfathers of horror really need to jump on a bandwagon when he can normally be relied on to be the one driving? Well, ultimately the film struggles because of the limitations of such a conceit, but his take on the idea is more inventive and insightful than the others.

Sadly it seems to have been lost on many people who watched this film in the wake of the new Dawn of the Dead or the before mentioned Cloverfield. The comparisons are very unfair though and could easily be reversed as both of those films lack substance [they don't need]. There is a tangible difference between horrors and thrillers. They can overlap of course, but essentially, just as thrillers don't need monsters to scare us, monsters don't have to be scary. Well, not in an immediate "Boo!" sense anyway. No, the scare factor in Diary and the other Dead films is in why there are zombies and how we react. The joke in Dawn of the Dead was that the zombies weren't actually an immediate threat, but through greed and boredom the survivors let their defences down, almost becoming one of the shambling masses in the shopping centre, a danger we all face! Diary attacks the media saturated Internet culture, where we become oblivious to the most horrendous events and rely on knee-jerk, unfiltered testimony. The real zombies are the ones staring at Internet terminals all day...  :tease:

None of this excuses the fact this is a weaker entry in Romero's saga. The cast aren't great (the professor is really overdone, but I thought Ridley was great in the last act) and the handheld camera is pushed to its very limits, opening some huge plot-holes. In some ways, the film is a victim of it's own success in that when you try to make something look like shit, it actually does look like shit! That said, I did enjoy the mix of feeds and the voiceover at the start saying music was added to scare you was a clever indictment of the whole idea; why would a news reporter need to over-dramatise and edit the footage that was already shocking? They're of the Youtube generation, undermining their own claim that their footage is uncensored.

He doesn't pull punches in this, which is an improvement on Land of the Dead. A sly defence of slow zombies; a P.O.V. from an arsehole cameraman who is probably going insane (Peeping Tom style implications that the viewer is involved); inventive set-ups for kills (Amish hard-case!); and I loved the "goldfish bowl". I just wished it had more passion; something to rival his best gore moments. Like Day of the Dead when the zombies finally break in and there's a long, lazy shot of sheer carnage. Even Land aspired to that, but this is more like a remake of the first one. A scene with a couple of zombies being ran over could easily have been extended to a few more. There's a memorable and repulsive final shot which shows he hasn't lost that touch, but it's out of sequence and feels like an afterthought.

Overall Romero had something to say and said it well with flashes of ironic humour and some great set-ups in varied locations. A better, more lively cast and more gore could have papered over the holes that were unavoidable in an idea like this.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2008, 07:12:38 PM by Jon »

Offline Kathy

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Re: Diary of the Dead
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2008, 11:38:57 PM »
All the movies to choose from and you chose a horror film...I know the only reason you decided to watch this was to drive Pete crazy!

Najemikon

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Re: Diary of the Dead
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2008, 02:45:09 AM »
Nah, just unfortunate timing that it arrived yesterday and I'd waited ages to see it! ;)