Diary of the Dead

Critics Consensus

As Diary of the Dead proves, time hasn't subdued George A. Romero's affection for mixing politics with gore, nor has it given him cinematic grace or subtlety.



Total Count: 130


Audience Score

User Ratings: 27,209
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Movie Info

Horror icon George A. Romero effectively hits the "reset" button on his hugely influential Dead series with this scaled-back look at the zombie apocalypse as told from the perspective of a student filmmaker who sets out to shoot a low-budget fright film, but instead captures the breakdown of modern society at the decaying hands of flesh-eating ghouls. Jason Creed (Joshua Close) and his crew are shooting a mummy movie in the Pennsylvania woods when media reports begin pouring in about the dead rising from their graves to feast on the flesh of the living. While self-centered star Ridley (Phillip Riccio) beats a hasty retreat to his family's fortified mansion halfway across the state, the remaining cast and crew are forced to fight for their lives despite having no weapons to speak of, and only a wobbly recreational vehicle in which to seek shelter. Immediately recognizing the gravity of the situation and outspokenly skeptical of the media, determined director Creed decides to use his own camera to capture the real story in a documentary entitled "The Death of Death." Now, as the group attempts to fight their way to safety, the skeptics will all watch as their greatest fears become reality, and the realists will attempt to process a nightmare that modern science would pass off as impossible. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Diary of the Dead

All Critics (130) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (80) | Rotten (50)

Audience Reviews for Diary of the Dead

  • Apr 19, 2014
    I think I'm just mostly surprised the film wasn't an angry anti-modern technology rant by an old coot . . . In fact Romero demonstrates understanding of that technology and a desire to seriously examine how it has changed society. The horror genre seems as good a place as any for that kind of study, it's just too bad that Romero's more high minded notions come at the expense of everything else in this movie.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 07, 2013
    My introduction to Romero is a poor one. Why did he bother with this? Are his earlier films even worth seeing? Is this art?
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 09, 2012
    Different to George's other Dead films, Just was poorly done and a disappointing ending, Having said that the whole hand held camera footage worked well in more places.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer
  • Oct 28, 2012
    "Dear diary, uuuuuuuuugh!" Didn't Arvin Brown already do this back in 1976? Oh no, wait, this isn't another neo-noir adaptation of "One Across, Two Down", this is one of the latest installments in George Romero's classic "Living Dead" saga that resets everything back to... the first night, where zombies are just starting to spring up, limp around and eat people until they get shot in the head, except this time, it's all in a... found footage format. Wait, hasn't George Romero, most people who have done a zombie film and nearly every person who has done a found footage film already done this over and over again? So yeah, this film isn't too terribly original, neither as a zombie film nor found footage film, which is a shame, because I was sure hoping that they were going to go further with the whole zombie rehumanization concept, and now feel that even more so after seeing this film, as things would be a whole lot more unique if this footage was shot by an intelligent zombie that was learning to use a video camera. Actually, forget that idea, because an feature-length montage of bumbling around and groaning doesn't sound terribly exciting, and this film is bland enough as it is. This film didn't make its true major release until 2008, so yeah, I reckon 2008 wasn't too good of a year for "Living Dead" films, which isn't to say that this film is as much of a mess as Steve Miner's "Day of the Dead", but it is to say that this film disappoints, yet not so much so that it doesn't go saved by quite a few factors. Being a found footage film, the film is technically without cinematography, but as "The Bland Witch Project" taught us, if you're gonna bring some bums video camera to the silver screen, then you better have an inexplicably highly professional camera, and sure enough, the camera quality absorbs much depth from the color, and with lighting being handsomely bleak, we get quite the eyeful of striking imagery with dark depths to supplement intrigue. What further momentarily wakes the film up at times are, of course, the moments in which intrigue comes to a head in the form of action sequences, which are limited, yet well-concieved in their staging and tightness, as well as complimented by the gore. The film isn't quite as gooey-rific as other "Livng Dead" installments, yet when things get messy, they get good and messy, with the gore concepts being rather unique and nifty, as well as brought to life by quite a few pretty impressive effects. George Romero falls short on his standards time and again, with even the nasty not even being delivered as much as it usually is, yet make no mistake, when things go down, they still get pretty good and messy, and whether it be a scythe suicide-homocide or something pretty cool and messed up involving acid, expect the violence to stick with you as not only the makings of nifty set pieces, but something to rack up tension and a sense of consequence. Of course, the action would have nothing to rack up if tension wasn't already established, because although intrigue is limp consistently enough for the film, as a whole, to go limp, we're still talking about George A. Romero here, and while he doesn't hit as much as he should, he still hits his occasions in which he does hit, with intriguing atmosphere and some interesting themes that may get to be pretty unsubtly overemphasized, yet still stand, and firmly enough for you to undeniably walk away with a reasonable bit to ponder upon. If Romero succeeds in doing nothing else, then it is somehow managing to prevent boredom from ensuing, for although this film fails to pick up nearly as much as it should, it never falls so low that you're knocked clean out, let alone ready to dismiss the film that's not simply an unworthy watch, but an unpleasant watch. That being said, make no bones about it, while the film doesn't fall beneath contempt, the fact of the matter is that this promising project does, in fact, come out as an unworthy watch, as a whole, and for every strength that could have saved this film as decent, there is a chain of low notes that render the final product mediocre, or if nothing else, surprisingly mighty cheesy. I wasn't exactly going in expecting quite as much seriousness as there probably should be, yet the film corns up more than expect, with the screenplay being, not necessarily riddled, but still pretty packed with cheesiness, made all the worse in the execution, not just by Romero as director, but by the performers, for although there is the occasional passable performance, on the whole, many of the performances fall flat as either simply weak or even nearly embarassing, with shoddy line delivery (As a half-Texan and someone with the ability to hear, I feel deeply offended by Amy Lalonde's attempt at a thick Texan accent, and by the whole idea of a Canadian doing a Texan accent to begin with) and blandly awkward presence (Scott Wentworth was charming though). Certain performances are better than others, yet no performance truly impresses, with the most memorable performances being the ones that fall flat, and it doesn't help that George Romero's screenplay really does give these performers some cheesy material for them to make all the cheesier, going tainted by dialogue and set piece faults that either slip up as unintentionally poor or so obviously intentionally cheesy that you can't flow with the humor, just feel the sting of the active cheesiness that takes you out of the film. What further takes you out of the film is its format, as the film is not simply presented as a found footage film, but a mockumentary, and such a concept could work, but doesn't really, not just because the film will take too long before it switches from b-roll to documentary narration and stylings, thus creating a kind of thematic inconsistency, but because the documentary style gets to be overbearing, if not actually not all that well-done by its own right, and momentarily shatters the illusion that we are in this story. What further distances you from this story is the simple fact that the story really isn't all that terribly well-structured, having its slapdash rushed occasions and other forms of heavy-handed progression, as well as ceaseless conventions that render things pretty predictable. Of course, something that's not too terribly easy to see coming are questionable story moments in which the characters and other story aspects pull something that feels pretty hard to fully buy into (Seriously dude, turn the camera off!), though I don't know if it's so much Romero's writing that particularly fuels the exact potency of such a misstep as much as it's Romero's direction. I wouldn't exactly consider George A. Romero all that restrained of a director, consistently slipping up a bit on doing his worthy themes full justice, yet he tends to portray his film's depths with reasonable grace, and while certain thematic concepts of this film alone are enough to arouse some degree of intrigue, with this film, Romero throws subtley compeletely out of the window, bashing you over the head with the themes upon which this film is so heavily reliant, while failing to obscure the sting of the film's other missteps. If nothing else, Romero drenches the film in unrelenting blandness that stands as both this film's key flaw and one of its key saviors from collapse into contempt, as the film is just too bland to be bad, yet that's just bland enough for this promising project to limp along with about as little to like as dislike, and while this film does stand to be worse, it most certainly stands to be better, falling flat as misguided mediocrity from which you will walk away thoroughly underwhelmed, if you can even remember the film that is. To wrap up this entry, the film a certain nifty look to it to compliment what bite there is to the film, though not as much the neat action sequences, which are in and of themselves complimented by well-concieved and well-produced gore to rack up tension, established in the first place by what George A. Romero does do right, and just firmly enough to dismiss the total dullness that could have driven this film into total disaster, yet certainly not firmly enough to dismiss the sting of Romero's overambition and misguidedness, which goes composed of such writing faults as cheesy dialogue and set piece concepts, - made all the worse by mostly weak, if not just plain terrible performances - uneven and rather overbearing filmmaking formats and a heavy-handed, relentlessly conventional story structure with questionable plot moments and overbearing themes made all the more uneasing by the profound lack of subtlety within Romero's storytelling, which also delivers on relentless blandness that keeps things from truly picking up and stands as one of the key reasons why "Diary of the Dead" ultimately falls flat as a mediocre let-down. 2/5 - Mediocre
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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