Diary of the Dead
Having expanded his ‘living dead’ trilogy to a tetra-logy with the relatively high budget, studio-produced Land of the Dead, modern horror movie master George A Romero goes back-to-basics – and his own beginnings – with his fifth zombie film, of which he says: ‘It’s not a sequel or a remake. It’s a whole new beginning for the dead.’
Set in present-day Pennsylvania, and disregarding the post-apocalyptic narrative of the previous films, Diary opens with an outbreak of reanimated corpses caught on camera by a local TV news crew. The report turns out to be part of a video diary and blog made by a bunch of college students and uploaded to the internet as a warning to those souls still living.
Given that Romero himself was a student in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and shot his debut Night of the Living Dead there 40 years ago, the set up of the new film is a sly, self-referential joke. And that’s pretty much the tone of Diary, which is more humorous than horrific. Thus, in the video-within-the-film (rather moronically entitled The Death of Death) one of the students notes that if zombies walked fast (as we’ve seen in contemporary living dead films such as 28 Days Later), they’d break their ankles.
Unfortunately, all this is neither as much fun, nor as smart, nor as gory as one would have wished. Working with a low budget on a short shoot with a no name cast, Romero’s re-imagining of the horror genre he made his own is largely rambling and monotonous. Nevertheless, he’s got the support of fellow horrorists, Wes Craven, Stephen King, Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro among them, who contribute commentaries to the proceedings via newsreaders’ voices.
General release from Fri 7 Mar.