Friday, January 21, 2011
2008's Diary of the Dead is a little seen but pretty good zombie movie, utilizing the "found footage" and "characters making a movie on the run" genre of thriller film making popularized by movies like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. Set in the initial days of a zombie apocalypse (it's mostly left up to the viewer whether director George Romero is re-booting his zombie universe or simply choosing to set this story in the early days of the same timeline he's been exploring for years, with a little artistic license to allow for the use of cell phone cameras, social networking sites, and other modern communication conveniences), we follow a group of students and their professor as they try to make sense of the dead now coming back to life.
The student characters are mostly whiny and annoying, but no more so than similar characters seen in other horror movies (besides, don't unlikable characters often make for the most satisfying death scenes?). Conversely, the professor character is kind of fun, as his main concern seems to be whether the group's latest hideout at any given time has a fully-stocked bar. I think I would worry about a bar, too, if I was on the run from zombies.
Diary of the Dead is slick, fast, doesn't overstay its welcome, and features lots of creepy zombie action (though some of the CGI effects are better than others). The movie looks sharp and clean on standard DVD, and the DVD features a generous amount of special features. While perhaps not up to the classic standard set by his initial zombie films (1968's Night of the Living Dead, 1978's Dawn of the Dead, and 1985's Day of the Dead), the tension, scares, and raw immediacy of Diary of the Dead definitely make it worth a look.