Friday, October 10, 2014

31 Days of Halloween - Day 10 - Movie 1

George Romero's Diary of the Dead (2007) follows a group of filmmaking college students immediately after the dead begin rising from their graves as we've seen in Romero's previous zombie trilogy. The entire movie focuses on their efforts to get home to their families and to document the events of the world as they travel to get there. This film is a real mixed bag. Romero is experienced enough to actually provide a story arc with something of a payoff to it to the found footage genre, which typically seems to be an excuse for avoiding a tight plot and any kind of ending. He also tries to imbue his film with the same sort of social commentary that featured heavily in his previous Dead films, and has kept them elevated above their imitators.

Here the commentary is on the digital world where everyone has a camera at all times and everyone also seems to have a blog. On one hand, bloggers are bringing unfiltered news to the world that major news outlets are diffusing in they way they cover it. On the other hand, so much of this coverage ends up being hard to filter through to find out what's genuine and instead of being informative, just becomes noise. There's also a criticism of experiencing the world through a screen and a new of some people to feel compelled to document everything, at the expense of experiencing what they document. This commentary is too central and up front in this story, making it seem a bit heavy handed.

The format also lends itself to some unbelievable moments where more than one character, in more than one scene, stands around filming a close friend being attacked by a zombie instead of acting in any helpful way that could save them. The characters themselves are too numerous and mostly indistinguishable, so it's tough to empathize with their plight. There are some nice moments in the movie and some arresting visuals such as where one of the characters has dumped the bodies of his household towards the end. Overall though, this ground has been trod on too many times, and even Romero is having a tough time finding new material to bring to the sub-genre he invented. In fact, without his involvement and this movie's connection to his other Dead films, this would be an easy film to overlook.


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