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RELEASED: 2007, Cert. 18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 95 mins
DIRECTOR/SCREENPLAY: George A Romero
PRODUCERS: Sam Englebardt, Peter Grunwald & Ara Katz
MUSIC: Norman Orenstein
Joshua Close as Jason
Michelle Morgan as Debra
Shawn Roberts as Tony
Joe Dinicol as Eliot
Amy Lalonde as Tracy
Scott Wentworth as Andrew
Philip Riccio as Ridley
Tatiana Maslany as Mary
Chris Violette as Gordo
Todd Schroder as Brody
FILM ONLY REVIEW
A group of students is travelling from somewhere to somewhere else, and they are making a film.
Meanwhile, the USA goes crazy in the space of a few minutes, as dead people begin to walk, attacking the living and eating their flesh.
The remainder of the movie concentrates on the students, who are still making their own film, trying to escape the flesh-hungry invading dead.
Diary Of The Dead is presented in an odd, somewhat irritating format, in that you are sort of watching a film of a film. During the film of the film, which takes up most of the running time, the camera work (obviously on purpose, so as to convey the idea that such is being created by amateurs) is truly awful to the point where I could hardly bear to watch. However, and from some deep, dark, fortuitous place inside of myself which is mostly unreachable, I somehow managed to stick with what honestly must be one of the very worst films I've ever seen.
The storyline is quite straightforward in that I was able to work out what was supposed to be happening, but my viewing was from a standpoint of astonished disbelief as to how anybody possibly could think this film is something to be considered in any way worthwhile.
The acting by the whole cast is uniquely awful, with the dire, lifeless, hamfisted script limping along at about the same pace, and there is far too much unnecessary swearing. I don't object to appropriately placed profanities, but the torrents of Anglo-Saxon emitted in this film are annoying rather than useful. There were a couple of points during Diary Of The Dead where I was laughing at this worst than tenth-rate horror caper, but I didn't find the fleeting instances where the film is (I believe) actually supposed to raise a smile, amusing in the slightest. If anything did deliberately come close to humour, I suppose it was the occasional little burst of an electronic rendition of The Yellow Rose Of Texas which one of the characters has as the ring tone on their mobile.
The music is very average too, being predictably typical for this genre of film...orchestral, raising the drama levels when the 'walking dead' were on the prowl and attacking their victims.
Although such isn't enough for me to give a higher star rating for this film, I must say that some of the special effects are very good, looking quite convincing. The blood and gore element is put across pretty well, although it must be said this isn't a slasher movie....it is a sort of, but not quite, down the zombie/flesh-eating route. It is just a shame that the effort put into creating these rather good special effects didn't find its way onto other areas of the set, such as making sure the actors could act!
It is my considered belief that everybody involved in the making of Diary Of The Dead shouldn't give up their day jobs, because if they continue spewing forth poorly acted, poorly directed and poorly produced nonsense such as this, bankruptcy could end up being their only option.
I am awarding myself a hefty and well-deserved pat on the back for managing to summon up the wherewithal to gird my loins and suffer this dreadful film from start to finish, and I can promise that the experience of plodding through the whole debacle from start to finish, was something infinitely worse than Japanese water torture.
I'm vaguely tempted to say that Diary Of The Dead could benefit from a complete overhaul if ever a remake should be on the cards, but at the end of the day, it's probably better to let sleeping dogs lie and consign this truly dreadful conglomeration of twaddle to the scrap-heap.
In summary, the only people I can think of who could possibly gain any entertainment value from Diary Of The Dead, are those impressed by special effects. I would warn people who have cut their teeth on decent horror films to give this one a wide berth, as you could end up toppling into a state of slavering, irrevocable insanity if you try to watch it.
At the time of writing, and if anybody is brave enough to want to risk watching this truly dreadful film, it can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from 19p to £17.79
Used: from 11p to £12.96
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Run Time - 95 minutes
Genre - Horror
Country - American
Certificate - 18
So, Diary of the Dead, the fifth film in director George A Romero's 'Dead' series although not a direct sequel to the previous films, a re-jigging of the myth through a diary style film from events supposedly taking place at the same time of the Day of the Living Dead film. The purpose of its roll in the franchise was commercial, trying to spark and then set up a TV spin off for HBO, which, alas, never materialised. The excellent 'Walking Dead' more than compensated for that non show though.
Its one of those films that suffers with the critics because it didn't appeal to the hardcore Romero fans and didn't stimulate the general film fans looking for something predictable and cliché in the horror genre, this aligned to neither, why I kind of liked it. Although it doesn't feel original I think it is something different, the diary idea of kids filming a zombie outbreak for posterity rather interesting.
Romero's films always have a political undertone and here he nibbles at the new media and how the people are now becoming the documenters of history through access to the internet and the ability to video events how they see them for all to see. As we have seen with the recent exposed corruption of the police, media, politicians and banks that the establishment is indeed coming tumbling down as the people take power through that new media and expose it all. What that has to do with the zombies is for you to decide, Romero always making the point in his films that if we don't want to fight back then we become those zombies to the establishment.
Michelle Morgan ... Debra Moynihan
Joshua Close ... Jason Creed
Shawn Roberts ... Tony Ravello
Amy Ciupak Lalonde ... Tracy Thurman
Joe Dinicol ... Eliot Stone
Scott Wentworth ... Andrew Maxwell
Philip Riccio ... Ridley Wilmott
Chris Violette ... Gordo Thorsen
Tatiana Maslany ... Mary Dexter
Todd Schroeder ... Brody
Laura DeCarteret ... Bree
Megan Park ... Francine Shane
A group of Pittsburgh University film students are making a cheesy horror film on the grounds of the campus for a semester project, Professor Maxwell (Scott Wentworth), their faculty supervisor, keeping an eye on them. But their movie is about to come to life when breaking news in the same late hour reports of a phenomenon breaking out where dead people seem to be coming back to life, but explained away as 'local event' and so not to panic. But on the internet in places like YouTube the truth s being posted up around the world as eye witness videos show it's not localised and happening all over the world, governments trying to suppress the truth to control panic.
Two of the students, Ridley (Philip Riccio) and Francine (Megan Park), decide to leave the group and head back to their families before it's too late, whilst project director Jason (Joshua Close) wants to film the actual events documentary style to get the truth of what's really happening, a proper film project, better than being wrapped in bandages playing mummies. When his girlfriend Deborah (Michelle Morgan) can not contact her parents they travel in a RV (remote Vehicle) to her family home up state, Professor Maxwell and fellow film students Mary Dexter (Tatiana Maslany) and Tony (Shawn Roberts) joined by a young couple, sports jock Gordo (Chris Violette) and his girl Tracey (Amy Ciupak Lalonde), also on board.
After their first encounter with a zombie cop its obvious it's real and spreading as they race around burning cars and grab food where they can. After encountering a group of black guys they get access to the internet and start downloading their film and tool up for their journey, the plan to stay with Ridley and Francine in a big and secure house. But when they get there all is not as it was supposed to be as the head shot body count rises, friend having to kill friend.
Its Cloverfield meets the Walking Dead and surprisingly watchable and thought out, considering the stick it gets in some film books and websites. Because it's yet another zombie film in such a well worn category I think gore fans were expecting something special from their king. But, as I said before, I quite like the whole idea of exploring how places like YouTube mean the public will always get the truth out and so control has been eroded in times of crisis, systems put in place to stop panic. Ok, the students filming zombies from such close quarters and not stepping in whilst their friends are attacked on film is slightly implausible and silly but it does give the film its own truth in the way it's trying to put across. How would we react in that situation once we get used to killing zombies?
As with all of these Romero films there is an angry social and political point to be made, our inaction to not rebel against our inane existence of TV and junk food making us the zombies, the way Shawn of the Dead put across brilliantly through Simon Pegg and co, enough intelligence and subtle clever humour in the script to explore those familiar ideas to ingratiate the YouTube generation but plenty of zombies being blasted to keep it light and the wider audience interested if they are not political. We have become programmed to terminate the undead in video games and so how much fun would it be in real life, these films great at feeding that violent emotion. Without law and order we too would be animals.
The acting is ok and played as you would expect it and there are some great scenes here too, none more so than the swimming pool one. It moves along nicely and doesn't dwell on who is going to be dating who or any love story stuff. You know these young people are going to be whacked in order of cool and so you just want to get into the 'shoot em up' stuff as quick as possible, killing zombies in the most inventive and gruesome way as possible a must for viewers. Its smarter than it looks and so reason enough to watch it.
I wouldn't say it was a must see film but simply one to ring in the TV guide if it pops up on all those obscure channels you now have on your digital TVs. With some cool voice over's and surprise cameos (George A Romero playing a deputy mayor) its clear Romero still has the cult pull he did in the glory days of horror in the 1980s and 90s and so still has something to say. It was made for just $2000, and looks fabulous on it, doing a healthy $5 million back.
NYT - "It's clever, or at least clever enough to keep you going and interested from start to finish. It just isn't scary".
Daily Telegraph - "This is hardly a new idea by now, and Romero does it to death with ponderous musings about camcorder culture and the ethics of stopping to look, not to help. Intermittent fun, though".
E-Film Critic - "In Romero's apocalypse, the brutish and soulless hold sway, and that's just the humans".
Austin Chronicle - "It's rough around the edges, dirty in the middle, and stained through with a sort of nihilistic humanism that ultimately unsettles more than the lurching undead themselves"
Imdb.com - 5.9/10.0 (24,066 votes)
Metacritic.com - 66% critic's approval (51% Users)
Rottentomatos.com - 61% critic's approval (43% Users)
Radio Times Film Year Book - 4/5
Leonardo Maltin's Film Year Book - 2/4.
Once upon a time, Director George A Romero was the undisputed King of the Dead, using his films to mix horror with social satire. The recent resurgence in zombie films (Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, The Crazies) has challenged his claim to this title. Can the Grand Master still cut it?
Well, whilst it certainly can't hold a candle his earliest efforts (Night of the Living Dead/ Dawn of the Dead), it can hold its head up high against the later Day/Land of the Dead. Looks like Romero's not ready to become a shambling corpse just yet.
The film sees yet another outbreak of zombie-ism infect America, turning anyone who dies into a flesh-eating, reanimated corpse. Against this background of chaos and social breakdown, a group of college kids and their lecturer try to get back home. Thankfully, one of them is a student filmmaker, who insists on filming everything that happens and uploading the content to the internet.
Anyone familiar with late 20th century horror will instantly think "Blair Witch" and there's no doubting the influence that film has on the look and feel of Diary. That's no bad thing, though. Whilst it might have been over-hyped, Blair Witch showed how much tension can be created through the use of a first person perspective which puts the viewer in the thick of the action.
The problem is Diary never fully delivers on this promise. There are a few tense moments but, for the most part, Diary is neither scary nor tense. The few minor scares are all pretty lazy, standard horror movie stuff, whilst the slow-burning atmosphere of the early Dead films (which allowed Romero to almost imperceptibly ratchet up the tension) is all but missing. This is not helped by the fact that early on, Romero makes it obvious that one key character is not going to be around at the end, so we spend the whole film waiting for them to succumb to their fate, rather than wondering which of them might die and which might live.
The first person camera work is also not without its problems. OK, Romero tries to show that this character is committed to documenting the events and uses his camera as a means of shielding himself from the reality of what is happening. Yet, like Cloverfield, there's a bit of a reality gap. No matter how many times the lead cameraman claims it's important to document these events, would you really continue filming whilst being attacked by zombies, or stand calmly by whilst one of your friends was attacked, capturing it all on film?
It is at this point that Romero's social commentary kicks in and it's also here that the film has most to offer. In Diary, Romero is attacking the YouTube culture, where everyone is looking for internet fame, where everyone wants to stand by on the sidelines recording, when they should be in the middle of the events, helping to change things and make a different. He is attacking macabre, morbid side of human nature, which finds us sitting, staring in horrified fascination as the same images of tragedy and catastrophe are broadcast to us again and again (September 11, anyone?). He is attacking the fact that through over-exposure to such images, we are becoming more and more immune to such horrific images. Finally, as one of the characters observes in an astute, but almost throw-away comment, all this online content is simply creating "noise", which makes it almost impossible to separate fact from fiction.
Romero's true strength is that when he jumps on his soapbox, he does so in a subtle way. There is no tub-thumping, no haranguing his audience, no obvious moral conundrums or big speeches. Everything happens naturally. Characters simply make occasional observations in the course of their normal conversations which are actually rather deep and revealing.
That said, the dialogue in Diary is of variable quality and the level of social commentary more limited than in Romero's best films. Some of the dialogue is very perceptive; some terribly trite and badly written. Other parts are just downright embarrassing and you cringe as you hear it and struggle to believe that Romero could ever have let lines like that into his film.
The cast are a bunch of no-name actors, but this works in the film's favour. There are no big names to distract and the cast do a pretty decent job. Sure, they're all a little stereotypical (the Princess, the aloof lecturer, the geek, the tough, but sensitive girlfriend), but they do work well together. As the action proceeds, we do start to feel like we are part of this little group, fighting for survival alongside them, something which is again helped by the heavy use of first person perspective. You never really care about them as you watch them die... but hat rather bears out Romero's central point about our increasing immunity to violent images.
The film will be far too tame for those looking for lots of gory action. Whilst there are some bloody moments, they don't play a significant part in the film. In fairness, Romero's attitude to violence has never changed; he will show gore when necessary to add a sense of horror or shock, but does not use it for sensationalist reasons or to paper over cracks in the film. The trouble is, Romero's attitude to horror might not have changed, but the attitude of audiences has: to a demographic raised on the torture porn of Saw and Hostel, Diary might be "boring"
That's being unfair on Diary, though. Whilst it might not be Romero's best zombie film, it is still both watchable and interesting to see how Romero has developed his storytelling technique over the years. After the reviews it received on its release, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Certainly in the pantheon of Dead films, I would put it above Land of the Dead. Romero might no longer be the undisputed King of the Dead, but he's not dead and buried yet, either.
Diary of the Dead
Director: George A Romero
Running time: approx. 95 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2010
Zombie films are a secret guilty pleasure of mine and I have nothing but admiration for the skills of Director and Writer George A Romero. The film 'Diary of the Dead' came out in (2007) but I received it for my birthday this year (thank you Amazon wish lists!).
I was saving it for a nice night in and last night, with nothing doing on TV I decided the moment had arrived. When I watch horror, I suspend my disbelief and just go with the flow, rather than trying to question all the coincidence and 'yeah right' feelings that can occur.
The film is set amongst a group of film students who notice the growing news story about the 'infected' and one of the group decides to make a documentary, using the latest social media channels to upload his footage and watch what else is happening worldwide. This is to counter any government editing and changing of stories.
I liked the modern take on the film, I have lots of 'favourite bits' to report and felt that it really did the zombie film from a different angle this time. It still held pleasing scenes in an almost empty hospital, dorm room and various houses and barns. A few panicky bits where they are surrounded and you think 'they'll never escape' losing a few members of the original group here and there until there are only three of them left in a panic room with satisfying CCTV shots of the estate they have bolted to.
I love the way the reality of what's happening kicks off at different points for each of the actors. They all pick up on what's happening remarkably quickly despite them being on location in the middle of nowhere with only a crackly radio and a short piece of confusing news footage of where it all started to help them learn of their fate.
After a drive around Pittsberg and Pennysylvania in an ace camper van, the group realise that most of their families and friends are dead, so they drive back to their rich friend's family estate complete with swimming pool, cctv and other luxuries. He is in an agitated state when they get there and they are trying to work out what's going on with him. He's a mixture between the perfect host, offering food and drinks and yet is being vague about where his family are and their other friend. Turns out they are all 'turned' to Zombie state and he's 'buried' them in the swimming pool, oh and he's been bitten and is about to turn too. Cue an amusing scene of zombies thrashing around in a blood tinged pool. Cute.
As usual, some of the characters are quite irritating in their attitudes and their choice of weapon becomes a bit quirky ranging from pistol to bows and arrows and random hospital equipment. The hairdryer in the bath incident was particularly creative I thought.
Whilst Romero is a master of all things Zombie, I would only recommend watching this film if you are into all this strangeness. I realise some people just won't get it and would find it mindless gore. To me it's a treat to watch this genre of film and one I never seem to tire of.
My verdict is that it's not as good of Dawn of the Dead, but it does a good modern take on how technology and zombies can interact in today's world of social media. Whilst the zombies can't blog or twitter yet, I eagerly await the next generation who may well do so!!
This was a film that I was highly anticipating coming out, and let me just say, although it wasn't the best zombie horror to be released in recent years, it certainly didn't let me down.
This is George. A. Romero getting back into what he does best. Although his earlier attempt of "Land Of The Dead" was a film that I liked, he made the mistake in that one of developing a main character of one of the lead zombies and creating an impression of intelligence and leadership, and even sympathy for fellow zombies, but as all you zombie fans out there know, zombies are mindless flesh eaters that crave only their next meal.
This film however goes back to what we like and creates a story of a zombie outbreak occurring all over the world and focuses on a small band of friends trying to survive the horror and possibly find family to be with. The zombies are everywhere but like I said before, they are just lusting after human flesh and wandering around only directed by where they might find their next meal, no intelligence, no heart felt sympathy and no leadership, just mindless walking corpses.
The only down side to seeing this film on a shelf and deciding whether to buy it or not is realising that the whole film is done on hand held camera. But please please please don't be put off if your not a fan of hand held camera work, and let me tell you why.
The film revolves around a group of college film students who are out in the woods trying to film and direct their own B-horror film for a school project. Hence they have proper, almost hollywood quality cameras for their filming, so unlike films like the "Blair Witch" the camera work is really good.
You may say to yourself that its cheating, that the film is meant to be hand held footage so it shouldn't be too good, but the way you have to get around that is to think to yourself that they are film students, and if anyone is going to be good with a camera, then they will! So trust me when I say, the footage is actually really well done, and you dont need to worry about shaky camera work.
Now to the film. The story is what you might expect, the main group does not believe what is happening at first, literally until they are attacked and see the horror for themselves. Then comes the need to get home and see if family is ok, which leads us on a rollercoaster of trips across the country, creating multiple opportunities for attacks and losses within the group.
Theres not much you can say about the actual story itself apart from what the actual story is centered on. One of the students decides that filming everything they do would make for great film, much to the dislike of his friends, who dont appreciate a camera thrown in their faces in such terrible times, but he believes it is something that needs to be documented. Over the length of the film, slowly but surely, most of the rest of them come on board with his ideas and thats how we get to watch we do.
The film also has a great narrative occurring from one of the main characters, that adds a bit of emotion to the story, something which I believe gave the film that bit extra it needed.
All in all, this was a good attempt by Mr Romero and was enjoyable enough for me to go out and buy after seeing it for free first. If you like horror and inparticular zombie horror, this is something you should watch. And even if your not a regular fan, it wouldn't hurt to give it a try as the way in which it was filmed, was enough to catch the interest of my wife, who isn't a typical fan.
note: also appears in part on The Student Room and Flixster
George Romero is up there with Dario Argento as one of the most influential horror filmmakers to ever have lived. His super Dead trilogy, consisting of Night, Dawn, Day, Land, and now Diary, are mostly acclaimed by both critics and audiences. His latest instalment, though, just can't cut it - it's a cack-handed attempt at a rather novel idea, and sadly, is a sign that perhaps it's time to hang up the filmmaking gloves.
The film begins as a group of film students are making their own film in the woods, but suddenly, a zombie invasion breaks out in their town, and they're forced to contend with it, whilst trying to keep the camera running both for monetary gain and as a document of the incident.
By now, these "handheld" films have almost become an overdone cliche - it began with Blair Witch, and continued with Cloverfield, but by now, I'm quite bored with the idea. At least most of the films tried something new, but Diary just plods along with the usual grievances of films such as this - chiefly that, nobody in their right mind would keep the camera in an appropriate position to film the carnage in an incident like this! What's more, the characters are thoroughly stupid, and although some of the gore is quite agreeable, and there's some good laughs to be had, it's just not enough to make it anything more than a half-baked attempt at something new that, sadly, doesn't live up to Romero's previous work.
Romero's latest zombie film is also his worst, utilising the handheld-camera technique which is by now becoming a trite gimmick. The social satire of Romero's film is too heavy-handed to have any effect, and overall, this is just a pretty rudimentary zombie film, even if it is well-humoured.
Diary of the dead is another Zombie flick directed by vetran Zombie film maker George A. Romero.
Shot in the style of the blair witch and Cloverfield all from the point of view of a video camera its a departure from his previous films.
The story follows a group of young film makers filming a horror, as they go about there work thngs around them start to go wrong and they recieve information via TV and other forms of media and communication that there seems to be some kind of outbreak making the undead rise.
The film is more a commentry on how we go about our day to day live today feeding our thirst for information via internet and tv. its very much a modern version of the zombie genre that in parts work.
The tension is high due to the confinement of the video camra but lets itself down with some moments of comedy characters like an unfased amish man and some one note characters.
The fimm as previous installments has a lot of horror and is not light on the blood but is hard to concentrate and be scared by this type of creature on a shaky camera. Like the style of cloverfield and blair witch the characters are on screen all the time and we follow thir plight as they try to survive the carnage.
Light on plot the film reddems itself with the style of the film and has moments that will disturb but make you think how dependent we are on technology today.
A so so zombie film
'Diary of the Dead' is George Romero's fifth instalment in his zombie film series and ,much like its predecessor 'Land of The Dead', confirms that he, like the once untouchable John Carpenter, has lost his ability to make intelligent, unsettling horrors and has had to resort to rehashing his own past glories.
Though a very poor film, 'Diary..' is actually built around a decent premise; a group of student filmmakers are shooting a horror film in the woods when radio reports start coming in announcing that the dead are returning to life. This prompts them to try and get back to their families, travelling in a mobile home and filming their experiences, whilst editing their footage on a laptop and uploading the results onto youtube throughout their ordeal. The entire film is presented as an uploaded video, complete with narration courtesy of its female lead. This is potentially a great idea... the idea of browsing through youtube videos, twitter updates and the like of people broadcasting their experiences of the dead overtaking the world's towns and cities strikes me as both hugely appealing and also relevant as a piece of social commentary, investigating how the recent explosion in world communications through mobile phones, digital cameras and the internet has changed the way we operate as individuals, nations and a species as a whole.
Unfortunately however, any hopes of intelligent analysis are crushed here by woefully poor direction and atrocious acting, dialogue, script and casting, turning what could have been an intruguing film into an interminably dull, unoriginal and mangled mess. It might not seem appropriate to criticise the amateurish way in which the film is put together, seeing as it is purporting to be an amateurish, hastily made student film, but my main criticism is that it doesn't succeed for one second in convincing that it is anything other than a studio-made Hollywood hack-job.
Whereas films like Rec: and 'The Blair Witch Project' managed to create a raw, tense, documentary-style feel, 'Diary of the Dead' feels consistently fake and contrived, its whole premise falling completely flat. The main characters are a bunch of rich, white middle-class American kids that I took a strong and instant dislike to, so the film fails to create any sense of emotional inverstment whatsoever, as I frankly just wanted to see them all get slaughtered as quickly as possible. They are the usual mix of nerds, handsome athletic/brooding types, ditzy blondes and so on, and I instantly hated them all. The only likeble character is their film-school professor, a walking cliché who speaks with the sort of accent British people only ever have in American films and wanders through the film constantly swigging from a hipflask and wielding a bow and arrow, having mastered his craft "at Archery Class during my time at Eton", naturally.
There is no chemistry whatsoever between any of the actors, and at no point, when talking either to eachother or to the student doing the filming, do they convey any sense of tension or emotion in general, so stilted are their performances. The film lumbers on from set piece to set piece, and whilst there are a few cool moments- one zombie gets a bottle of acid smashed over his head and lurches slowly towards the chamera as the chemicals dissolve his skull and brain; a reanimated sherriff staggers across the road nearby his upturned, flaming patrol car whith his skin almost completely burned away- there is no sense of momentum and no real plot to speak of. What we do get are random archive clips of chaotic human activity supposedly employed by the student film-editors to convey some profound message about the nature of humanity, and regular rambling narrative passages of self-important, pseudo-intellectual social commentary. The female lead is continually reminding us how looking through the lens desensitises us to and removes us from what we are seeing, and how the media effectively blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality, and whilst this is an interesting topic, A) it has been covered before and in considerble depth in everything from 'Rec:', and 'Blair Witch' to 'Network' and ' Videodrome' and B) is handled so cackhandedly here that is its more likely to provoke derisive laughter than constructive thought.
'Diary of the Dead' wants to be a highbrow modern horror that mixes gore with social analysis, but it just comes off as one more piece of manufactured Hollywood tripe, rich in CGI effects and pretty teens but low on brains and charm.
Watch the original Spanish version of 'Rec:' instead.
Yet another George A Romero zombie film, well not quite! Filmed on a hand held camera by a film student, Diary of the dead is set amongst the gory events that beset a group of film students who hear of the dead reanimating, on the radio, whilst filming a horror movie themselves (a Mummy film). The rest of the movie then becomes a documentary (The Death of Death) filmed by one of the students.
The plot line as always twists and turns as the students try to make their way back from collage to their homes, only to find themselves beaten by death reanimated each time, as you would expect in a zombie film, but in my opinion the appearance of a low budget film gives it an edge that is new to the genre.
As with all Romero zombie films he delves into the human psyche this time dealing with issues of guilt and if killing the zombies is in fact murder, and does so well, whilst using the plot to move the victims around locations.
I liked this film, it is by no means Dawn of the dead in, gore or pace but it has a new gritty edge over Land of the dead and fits into a hole not much covered before.
George Romero reaches his 5th outing, where he brings us back full circle in his zombie world. Diary is a new concept for George with his quirky hand held camera filming; think a cross between Cloverfield and the Blair witch Project. Following the characters as if they are filming Doomsday around them, we find ourselves at the start of the film, where the students are filming their own horror film in the woods (no better place than the woods I guess). When they hear on the radio that the world is falling apart this is where their adventure begins.
Romero hasn't surpassed Dawn of the Dead, and I don't think he ever will however this film is a far betting outing than Land of the Dead ever was. He has set up some really genuine scares and his special trademark kills are there too. One includes one zombie + bottle of acid smashed on head = a real disgusting mess. He can still carry those stand out black humour moments my favourite involves a deaf and dumb Amish man who has an ample supply of dynamite. I won't spoil the ending but its not a let down if you like Romero films, it carries all the dark tones that you would expect.
The social commentary that GR is famous for is very blatant, our self need and reliance on technology and desire for the next viral information download, and it's there in your face.
In summary this film works on many levels it's dark, gory, and packed full of very hungry brain eating Zombies.
Diary of the dead is the latest zombie gore-fest flick, from George Romero. In a genre where Romero was once king, he is now reduced to the joker with this muddled and unimpressive attempt at trying to keep with the current trend of first perspective camera angle viewing. Think REC or Cloverfield, with zombies, wooden acting that would embarrass even Keanu Reeves, atrocious dialogue and social commentary that's poorly conveyed let alone thought provoking and you'll get a rough idea of what Diary of the dead is about.
The film begins in the woods, with a group of film students, filming a mummy movie, for a class project. News suddenly breaks on the radio of strange reports of the dead rising to attack the living. The students, though unconvinced that this is anymore than a hoax al la the original George Welles war of the worlds radio broadcast in 1938, are concerned so decide to head to their respective homes. It is when they reach the college campus that the reality of what is actually happening hits home. The film then follows the usual formula of survivors traversing the devastated waste land of America, avoiding the living dead where possible and dispatching them indiscriminately where necessary, all while trying to reach a safety that you as the audience know they'll probably never find. The aforementioned journey never really delivers any genuine scares. At times I didn't even feel like I was watching a commercially released film. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was watching something rushed and desperate to keep up with the young uns. I understand that the gimmick of the film is to look as though it was made by students, and so it was a promising plot. However the acting and dialogue are too terrible to ever really come close to being effective as a believable faux documentary.
I really love zombie films so I can usually sit through any trashy zombie flick right to the very end. I even watched the dire Land of the dead without complaint, so for me to feel like changing the channel while watching this should give you an idea of how terrible it is. Do not watch!
Diary of the Dead is a low-budget 2007 horror film directed by George A Romero. It's the fifth zombie film to be made by Romero but not considered part of his famous 'Dead' series. Instead it's an attempt to do something a bit different - in this case a documentary-style film about the beginning of zombie epidemic seen through the camera of a young film director who wants to chronicle these events for posterity. It has been suggested that Romero was frustrated by studio interference while making 'Land of the Dead' and with 'Diary of the Dead' wanted to go back to his independent roots and make something more homemade that he had complete control over. The film centres around a small group of students from the University of Pittsburgh who are making a 'mummy' horror film in the woods with their tutor when news reports start to come in of the dead returning to life and attacking the living.
Before long the students are on the road in a camper van looking to reach their family homes as civilisation starts to crumble all around them...
Diary of the Dead is very much in the vein of The Blar Witch Project and a very underrated little film called The Last Broadcast in that most of the action is from the perspective of a camera controlled by a character in the film. Its style has reminded many of Cloverfield also although I must confess I haven't seen that film yet. Like The Last Broadcast the message in Diary of the Dead seems to be that we should be very skeptical of what we see on the news. The complete picture is often withheld or distorted. Another theme of this film is how people now receive their news and information more and more from the internet and how these new forms of media are taking over from traditional news sources. The inherent narcissism of these new YouTube generation 'commentators' and 'citizen journalists' doesn't impress Romero much in Diary of the Dead.
The film starts quite nicely with the students making an amateur 'mummy' film in the woods. It's quite a nice touch from Romero, who started his own film career with little or no money making horror films guerilla style. The director even makes a joke about one of his zombie rules and how other films never obey it - "How many times have I told you? Dead things don't move fast. You're a corpse, for Christ's sakes. If you run that fast, your ankles are gonna snap off."
When news starts to come in of the dead walking again and widespread violence, Jason Creed (Joshua Close) decides to keep his camera running and film everything. It's a bit daft of course this device. Your first reaction to a crisis and people - including your friends - dying around you would probably not be to constantly film everything. They probably could have made the film in a fly on the wall manner without the explicit explanation of Jason filming everything. This device reminded me very much of a spooky docu-crama called Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County and made me wonder if Romero had watched that one.
The various characters are not especially memorable and I struggled to tell some of them apart at times aside from Scott Wentworth as their booze loving British teacher Andrew Maxwell. You get the impression that Romero was not as fond of his central protagonist here as in his previous zombie entries and enjoyed himself when he had to start killing them off. When the students start to bicker - with variable thesping abilities - I did feel as if I was watching an episode of Dawson's Creek or something for a moment but Diary of the Dead, thankfully, does get better as it goes on.
The 'society collapsing' angle to the film often seems more hinted at with the low-budget (there are not a huge amount of zombies in the film) and, oddly, Diary of the Dead sometimes plays like a riff on the opening moments of the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake but if you stick with it there are some interesting and thoughtful touches within the more familiar elements.
The film has a slightly self-important narration ("The media were lying to us, or the government was lying to them...God had changed the rules" etc) by Michelle Morgan as Debra that it could probably have done just as well without. The narration is laced with political subtext from Romero but it sounds a bit pretentious sometimes coming from a teen actress who sounds like she's drawing her main inspiration from Linda Hamilton's throaty voiceovers in Terminator 2.
In addition to barbs at the news media and the Iraq war, Romero also comments on Hurricane Katrina. The students find a group of black characters who have been left to their fate by the authorities - "For the first time in our lives, we got the power 'cause everybody else left. All the folks without suntans." Romero uses real footage from Hurricane Katrina and the LA riots to quite good effect in the film to indicate society is falling apart.
We've been so deluged with zombie films recently it's hard sometimes to think of anything new to do with them and even Romero struggles with this. Encounters with zombies in abandoned hospitals or on the road start to feel slightly familiar and some might be disappointed to see that Diary of the Dead uses CGI blood splats and effects in many moments where old-fashioned make-up effects used to rule. For me though, Diary still has a lot more thought than most of the riffs on Romero's series and in its best moments shows flashes of invention that make it just about worth watching.
There is a funny bit where the group shelter with a deaf/mute Amish man and also some nice little moments that stick in the memory like a bit involving a zombie clown at a children's birthday party. Diary of the Dead does eventually draw you in but not quite enough sometimes. The best part of the film for me is when the group travel to the very upscale and large house of friend Ridley Wilmott (Phillip Riccio) and find him alone and acting very strangely as they debate whether or not to lock themselves inside a panic room. These scenes are very atmospheric and creepy and add some tension into the film. Diary of the Dead could have done with a little more of this.
It's a little tiresome in the film the way that any authority types - like the National Guard for instance - are predictably nutty and not very nice although Romero clearly wanted the characters to literally have to fend for themselves. Romero does have an amusing cameo as a Police Chief though: "These attacks were carried out by a bunch of illegal immigrants who were mistakenly pronounced dead before the attacks took place. The only time they were dead was when my men shot 'em."
I did quite like the look of the film at times. Although deliberately herky-jerky and amateur, there is good use of real footage like CCTV and news and the film is always quite interesting to look at even when nothing is going on. It did remind me of The Last Broadcast in this sense. Diary of the Dead is not a slick production featuring loads of zombies and action. It's more The Blair Witch Project than either version of Dawn of the Dead.
Overall, Diary of the Dead is not as bad as some of the critics suggested but it's no classic either. It's an interesting attempt to make a zombie film Blair Witch Project/Last Broadcast style and while some might be frustrated by the lack of scope and action there are enough sly touches and jokes from Romero to make it worth a look.
George A Romero should probably never have started making more zombie movies, as he defined the originals, and that was when he was at his best. However, i can't really complain as i just watched this and did really enjoy it.
It has the cliched premise of course. Group of attractive friends going from location to location as their numbers slowly disintegrate, but there are some nice little unique touches to this.
As the dead begin to rise, a group of friends who have been filming a cheap horror movie, try to find somewhere safe to hide from the zombies. One of the friends, Jason Creed (Joshua Close) decides to film their fight for survival, as he believes that everyone in the world should have the chance to see the footage, and see what is really going on.
The film therefore is all done from the view through the camera lens of Jason, his girlfriend Debra (Michelle Morgan) and their friend Tony (Shawn Roberts) This is used quite well, but could have been manipulated to a better degree. Like The blair witch project, it manages to convey a more personal, realistic appearance to the events, and some of the parts, in which a zombie may jump suddenly at the camera lens, really do make you jump. Though alas, like Cloverfield (is cloverfield now considered an offensive word? :p) This technique can sometimes lead to missing out on the action, and having the action blocked as the person is running away with the camera pointing downwards can be simply irritating, instead of realistic.
Though, it is a movie that manages to prevent boredom well, and is easy to sit through. It must be taken for what it is. Good, cheap and cheery entertainment for any fans of horror. This movie doesn't expect an oscar, just to supply us with some light hearted spooky horror, which it does well. George A Romero manages well in making this an original movie to some degree. The use of an amish man who can't speak becomes both amusing and atleast different, and the references to the harshness of governments in those in power in such a sutuation is well grasped and realistic. He manages to paint a world in which no one can be trusted, and peoples true sides really do show.
The acting is quite impressive for a completely unheard of cast, with everyone fitting quite well into their roles. The one person who stuck out to me though, was Scott Wentworth, who plays Andrew, the youths professor, who is cynical, very intelligent, and mildly alcoholic. Though his quotes are the best thing about his performance.
This is a very enjoyable film i feel, though some may not be a fan of the camera work, any horror fan should be able to appreciate it for giving out quite good thrills, and for being a little different from most of the other stuff out there. Just keep it away from any kids, cause some of the scenes are pretty aggressive and bloody.
'Lock yourself inside! Don't trust anyone, not even those you love.'
The fifth instalment of George Romero's 'Dead' films has a group of plucky teenagers aided by an older professor evade zombies while holding video cameras. Romero allegedly tries to tackle issues in his zombie movies and this film attempts to address technology and its effect on recording documentary style things that are japanning in real life.
The film doesn't really follow on at all from the previous Dead films, preferring to tell a new story of how the dead come back to life. In this respect its much more like an updated Night of the Living Dead. Theres no explanations as to how the dead are coming back to life, they just are.
The youngsters are film students and are making a horror movie as the world goes down the tubes. They intend to record what happens to them and upload their footage on the internet as they go along. The resultant film is called 'The Death of Death' and is the footage that makes up the film.
Similar in tone to many other hand held camera films like Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project, its difficult to get used to the shaky effect. The main difference is, Diary of the Dead isn't at all scary. The other thing is I couldn't care less about anyone who dies in the film.
In fact, you want more of them to die so we can see some more zombies! There are some good deaths though - one of the best being a zombies eyes exploding while having their head being zapped by medical resuscitators. Another being a zombies head slowly disintegrating as it gets fried away by hydrochloric acid.
Apart from the occasional death there's no real tension in the film. The claustrophobia of an underground bunker and a shopping mall is dispensed with in favour of the countryside, and it doesn't work. There are some exciting set pieces, most notably when the students are in an abandoned hospital, but we've seen it all before a hundred thousand times.
When Romero made his original trilogy back in the 60's, 70's and 80's, those films were standard bearers for the genre. Now it just seems he's jumping on the bandwagon after saying he would never made another zombie movie. I really enjoyed Land of the Dead and I hope the next film in the series 'Island of the Dead' is a bit better than this throwaway film.
Forgettable, Samey and unoriginal, Diary of the Dead is available from play.com for £5.99.
It has been a long week. Not particularly a bad week, just a long one. Work has been a tad hectic thanks to some brilliant new scheme that has been brought in which boils down to the poor saps at the bottom (that's me) doing a lot more work for the exact same pay and a just a smidgen less self respect. How fabulous. I decided that to cheer myself up, I would have my hair cut and dye it green again (my user picture at the moment is a lie, I am looking vaguely normal for now) but I just found out my supplier is out of stock. At this point I have decided that what I really need is a good old fashioned "lets blow the blood and guts out of anything that even thinks about moving for the next hour" type movie.
The movie I chose to fill my gap is one that has been sitting in my pile of things to watch for a while now. Diary of the Dead is a George A Romero film, who I am told is a legend in the crazy zombie death blood gore movie genre. My tattoo artist adores him and constantly plays his original movies while tattooing which is only slightly worrying till you realise he knows the movies so well he won't jump at the jumpy bits. He will chuckle maniacally...but he wont jump...hmm..
SO! I feel I should be in good hands! He has made Dawn, Night, Day, Land and Diary of the dead before and has recently started Re-making them in full surround sound and blood splattering glory! The one I'm about to watch is his recent Re-release of 18 rated "Diary of the Dead".
Starting with the menu's, they are pretty simple. By which I mean they are both pretty and simple. You get all the usual things, scene select, play movie, special features and subtitles. I do have to mention now though that apparently I have either a faulty DVD or just a really crap player as it won't even let me access the special features. Screw them. I shall watch the movie and decide if I want to moan about not getting the extras afterwards!
---The Blood all over the carpet!!---
My computer really does not like this DVD and decided to play it in French. Thankfully I managed to give it a kick in the nuts and now the peoples mouths are matching up with what they are saying.
We begin with a news report about a man who has shot his wife, child and then himself. The narrator tells us how the film was downloaded from the internet. We then see a nice little collage of riots and looting. The Narrator tells us that her and her friends made a film about what happened. What we are now watching is their crappy little horror film. Fortunately that doesn't last for long and the film doesn't stop rolling between shooting the guys movie. Essentially this is the Blair Witch Project with Zombies.
---Can I kill you please?---
The guy who is making the film is currently prodding his friends on camera for information. He wants to record stuff in case it makes history. He is bloody annoying. It's all really just a bunch of talking at the moment. I believe they are trying to build a history of the characters but it seems a tad forced.
Bring on the Zombie slaughter. Now this movie is a proper zombie film; they move nice and slow and chew down on you. Many people have been confusing recent movie creations with Zombies when the only similarity is an infectious disease.
Now that I have made that clear, I'm going to watch the film and see if it does anything unexpected. Back in a mo!
---Half way house---
So I'm about half way through the film and there are a bunch of ups and downs I feel the need to point out.
The film is a LITTLE (and I need to emphasise that word more than the "caps lock" button will allow) more thought inducing than most Zombie films. The narrator brings up some good points about human nature (like the fact we are all scum) and the interaction between the characters and their loved ones in a Zombiefied state may make one or two of you feel a little touched. Especially in the last minute of the film. Most will just say "Mwa ha, Kick that Zombie Ass"
The next up would be that the demise of the zombies is a tad more original than others I've seen. A lot of it involves the normal bullet to the brain, sometimes though they will use scythes, metal poles, swords and at one point you will get the pleasure of seeing a dead dudes head melt away over the course of about a minute after having a jar of acid smashed on it. Funky. If you like that sort of thing that is.
What that also means is that the effects are up to scratch in this movie. You won't any "quicker than a proclaimers one night stand" shots of gore. It will linger like that feeling of unease most will feel after watching Michael Jackson for too long. Or at all.
Since we are following a bunch of film students around, it can get quite annoying. Firstly because they are students. What's more annoying than that?? (don't tell the boyfriend or the lesbian I said that ok?) Secondly is the "film" part means that you will catch them discussing a lot of film type things. You will get to see them editing the film you are watching and spending a lot of time on the computer. It's a pain in the ass. I suppose it all links in with the story and the characters but it all just bores me a little.
That brings me to my next down. The focus on technology throughout the film is a bit annoying. The film makes a very good point that if crazy shit happens most people will instantly stick it on YouTube or blog about it on Myspace. I, however, would like to believe that if crazy shit did happen, I would not be sitting at my computer going "OMG THAT'S, LIKE, CRAZY SHIT!!". That and it annoys me that even though apocalypse is unfolding around them, the internet and television still functions. What can I say, I want my apocalypse Sans Techno-Techno-Techno.
As with any Zombie movie, there is the ending. It never really satisfies me. Most will leave you in the middle of the end. Some will perform a deus ex machina and all of a sudden everything will be roses again. This one leaves you with Zombies knocking at the door but also gives a little bit of thought provocation to distract you from the fact the ending was essentially canned crap.
---Here come the cavalry---
There are, of course, many of the Zombie movie clichés involved in the movie. But then I suppose you cannot really expect not to have them since it is a remake of one of the first/ original Zombie movie. As with any Zombie/ Apocalypse movie the army show up at one point and turn out to be assholes. Yay for them. You will also experience the old man hoarding zombies because they are "family" regardless of their new found "colder-than-Delia-smiths-midsection" status.
There was a vague hope that I was going to get to see one of the male cast slightly naked, but no, my hopes were dashed. God damn house coats. Instead I got the horrid cliché of the blond bimbo falling over in the woods and bearing her boobies.
Who knows. My DVD players are refusing. All of them. I call faulty DVD!!!!
I can tell you what they are but it would seem someone doesn't want my opinion on them. You have your normal commentary from the Director and a few of his handy little friends who helped cobble the movie together. Usually I refuse to comment on the commentaries anyway. Who needs a bunch of people telling you how ace they think they are over the top of the movie?? Not me.
You can watch interviews with the cast, though since I can't even remember the characters names and it's only been two minutes since the film finished, I am quite ok with not knowing what they have to say. Not that their performances were bad...just that they weren't exactly memorable.
Lastly you should be able to view a featurette type thing "Speaking of the dead" which is apparently Romero at some convention thing talking about the film. Hardcore fans of Romero will be angered if you're copy is crap as you might want to listen to what the man has to say.
Any good then? Well that depends. I would say it is a rather good Zombie Movie. In the grand scale of movies, Zombie Movies are never the greatest. But this is certainly worth the watch if you can imagine your enemies face on a million twisted corpses. As much as some of the characters are stupendously annoying, I quite enjoyed seeing them all get something sharp to the head at some point. The film also raises some interesting questions about and Government / Press censorship (but only if you look hard and even if you do see it, it's hardly ground breaking). You get what it says on the tin with this one and for £5.99 you can't really complain. Apart from the fact that I will since the extras don't work. Hmf.