Diary of the Dead Reviews
The one thing I notice in this movie that I never thought about before, is that every time there was a zombie attack, it's always caught on camera and just by the way it was perfectly shot in time for someone to come behind it to shoot or stab it. It would be a lot better if someone died or gets attacked off camera, because it would add a lot to this movie and keeps you guessing on when the next attack happens.
The acting was a bit off at times, the effect's are really dated, and the characters are a bunch of idiots.
As a found footage movie, this one drops the balls. The film opens with Jason's girlfriend telling us that she has finished the movie (I wonder why Jason didn't do it himself... could it be that something happens to him?). She informs the audience that she has edited together footage to create a documentary. She then proceeds to inform us that she's added dramatic music to set the mood and to hopefully, scare us. Are you asking me to buy that while watching the footage of your friends being eaten alive by the walking dead, you were so removed from the situation that you thought "you know what, if I put a musical sting right there, that would make this REALLY scary"? I know for the people watching the Dvd it's effective, but the film doesn't make sense in its own universe. The found footage/documentary angle isn't even consistent. I thought the idea was to have a single perspective to have us step into the characters' shoes and have things off camera be unseen until they jump right in front of him/her, but the movie cut to other cameras, such as cell phones, webcams and security cameras all the time. It breaks the illusion and the mood, something that is further hindered by the constant narration and the music.
Maybe the point of this movie is that people who document things should focus more on the footage and less on what they want the audience to feel, but I really don't think so. It just feels like the rants of an angry, incoherent old man. We are repeatedly reminded that our protagonist is infuriating his friends because he refuses to put down the camera. He films them when they are mourning the dead AND while they are being attacked. No wonder he is pissing them off. I never bought that the material he is seeing is so compelling that he is never willing to turn off the camera or put it down, even when people's lives are at stake.
George A. Romero can't even get this message of "you people should be ashamed of documenting the world instead of living it" right. In the film we are told explicitly that the news people are covering up the zombie apocalypse (don't explain how, it makes no sense). Not fifteen minutes later however, we get a message that then tells us that without the news, we're actually worse off because we now have thousands of people giving thousands of different reports on the internet and that the facts are being completely muddied up. Your guess is as good as mine as to what we're supposed to take away from this.
Alright, never mind all that. This is a zombie movie from the guy who created the genre. How does it hold up? Well, not very well. I can buy that the people in this world have never seen a zombie movie before, but do we have to assume that the director has never seen one either? This is the same plot as every other generic zombie movie. We get the people who are unable to accept that the dead are coming back to life, even though they witness it themselves. We get characters that struggle with the idea of "shoot them in the head" even when told explicitly to do so. We see the parents unwilling to accept that their children are now ghouls even though they are going around devouring the living and look like they're been rotting for days. Throw in the couple, where one of the members will get bitten and become infected so that the remaining person will have to insist "No, this time they won't change!" Don't forget the asshole military guys, because if you sign up for the army, all you care about when the shit hits the fan is stealing supplies and pushing people around. The protagonists, unlike the audience, are unable to detect people who act strangely and have surely been bitten by zombies and never think of doing things they would do normally like locking bathroom doors. Surprise surprise, this film also contains characters that are too stupid to take advantage of any situation in which a zombie has been temporarily been knocked down to finish them off, meaning that if a zombie is left with his brain intact at the end of a scene, it'll be back later to attack someone else. The movie goes out of its way to fit into this found footage format because without this shiny new gimmick "Diary of the Dead" would have been dismissed as total trash.
Let me just conclude with this: there is a scene where Jason is filming and a zombie walks past him in order to bite his friend that is inside the shot. Apparently holding a camera makes you invisible to zombies. Bullshit. Most insulting of all, the movie ends with a note of "look at what humanity has become, they are shooting zombies that used to be people and not feeling bad about it. Do we even deserve to be saved?" That, on top of all the finger wagging, the lame clichés and the messy story makes this a total disappointment for fans of the genre. (On Dvd, January 27, 2014)
I think that statement resonates more with people now than it did at the time of George A Romero's "Diary of the Dead"--available in 2007 but was released in the U.S in 2008--with the many reported cases of alleged police brutality (we don't know for sure in some instances, hence why I said alleged) and the call for police officers to wear cameras. 'Diary' is what I would consider to be a "surpriser," a movie that you go in not expecting much and [after you finish watching] realize that you're content with what you thought would be a negative viewing experience. Following movies like: "Cloverfield," "REC," "Quarantine," "Paranormal Activity," etc; Romero takes the found-footage style, which for many has become overused and ineffective since it doesn't necessarily require sharp direction, and spices it up with a bit of social commentary that makes the film stand out despite it being considered one of Romero's weaker efforts. However, the only major con here is the lack of practical effects for the gore, yeah, I know, CGI is used for most of the kills, I'd say. And in some shots, it's not even good CGI--what a bummer! But don't let that deter you from watching it or even buying it, Romero is STILL a master of the zombie subgenre and proves that a lot of directors that want to direct a horror movie could learn a lot from him, even this one. Since George's "Night of the Living Dead", there has been a reoccurring theme that asks who's REALLY the zombie? Them (the dead) or us (the live ones), Romero asks that in a different way this time around. By making villains out of the people behind the cameras (an ironic nod, or maybe even a slight shot against Romero from himself?), there's a refreshing sense of hatred towards some of these characters. As honorable as their intentions are, some of the characters become a bit too obsessed with recording the world around down drop dead and resurrect instead of being a good friend who's putting the group before him or herself. It works, man, I'm telling you, I was NOT expecting to be as impressed as I am right now. And...this isn't even the director at his prime and he's still showing everyone that his techniques work.
George A. Romero, please quit.
"I added music to scare you" ... yeah. Okay. Sure. I believe that 100%.