George Romero, being the High Grand Pooba of zombie movies, is held to a pretty high standard. I heard a bunch of people bash on this one before I saw it because of that. I don’t think that’s fair. I thought this one was pretty similar to his other stuff, and if they’re saying that it was inferior to his earlier work, then that was because they’re being nostalgic, and haven’t watched the early stuff on DVD lately.
I’d say that overall, Diary of the Dead is an above average zombie flick that was a little heavy on social commentary and was a bit preachy. But keeping in mind that this is Romero, of course it was going to be preachy. Expecting Romero not to be preachy would be like going to a Guilermo Del Toro movie and being shocked that there were Spaniards in it.
Diary is about a bunch of college filmmakers who’s mummy movie is interrupted by the end of the world. So they decide to take their camera out and film it. The movie is shot in a first person POV, as if the entire thing was spliced together and dumped onto the internet. Worthy goal, and it works pretty good for most of it.
It does get a bit obnoxious though, when somebody has a zombie attacking them, and the other characters are too stupid to drop their cameras and do anything to help. I know it was supposed to be commentary on the state of man, or something, but give me a break.
And of course, the movie ends on a typical Romero high note, with footage of rednecks tormenting the poor zombies. Because you know, us hill-billy gun nuts won’t have anything better to do at the end of the world then hang up zombies and use them for target practice. (well, duh… why would I go through the work to hang them up, when the friggin’ things are shambling around my neighborhood?)
It does have some good lines and some good scenes. My personal favorite is when the hapless filmmakers tell this one survival minded guy that surely the National Guard will restore order, and the dude says “I am in the National Guard.” Him and his group were the only people in the movie with a clue. After the zombies got dusted, I’m sure somebody tried to recruit him to work for MHI.
The only collegian with half a brain ditches the other losers in disgust towards the end. I hope that she went back down and hooked up with the survivors and lived happily ever after. But since this was a Romero movie, I’m sure she was captured and tortured by rednecks or something.
Overall, it was worth watching, but nothing that I’ll probably watch again for awhile.
The bonus features had the winners of a short zombie movie contest from MySpace. Some of those were actually really good. And if you’ve ever wanted to watch Teller from Penn & Teller shoot a zombie in the head with a Winchester, the bonus features are a must have.