Posted on Monday, September 10th, 2007 by Peter Sciretta
George A Romero’s Diary of the Dead is a concept with out substance, an idea without a clue. Romero, who is largely responsible for the zombie film genre, has decided to return to a low budget no star concept. Diary follows a group of film school students (and their professor) as they go on the run after the great zombie outbreak interrupts a late night shoot on a mummy short film. The director, who aspires to be a documentary filmmaker, chooses to remain behind the camera and shoot the story as it happens.
The quasi-Blair Witch format doesn’t work for many reasons, the first being that they are using pro grade panasonic high definition cameras. And instead of leaving it at that, Romero cuts in security cameras, footage from a camera phone, and a second Panasonic HD camera. I’m not quite sure that the POV concept could work in a mainstream Hollywood setting, but adding more camera sources deludes the point.
The only reason to read a diary is if you care about who wrote it. The characters in Diary are unlikeable and unrelatable. Because if one of my friends was being attacked by a zombie, I can guarantee you that my camera would be on the floor or being used to smash the zombie’s brains out. The characters are as one dimensional as the actors playing them. The dialogue is so bad that it evoked discussions after the screening of if that was Romero’s intentions. The usual underlying subtext is almost nonexistent. Diary of the Dead could have been something much more. It could have made a statement about what the zombie movie genre has become, and how the youtube generation of filmmakers will contribute. But instead we get a few knocks on media cover-up and one George W. Bush pun which, while funny, seems almost unneeded. I would have loved for Romero to take on the culture of fear or any of the other ripe topics available in our contemporary political climate. The flick features some fun creative gore-infused violence, but not much more. This film also makes me very worried about JJ Abrams’ Cloverfield, which also uses the same first person video camera gimmick. Hopefully they have better actors and a worth while script.
/Film Rating: 4 out of 10