Diary of the Dead

Ok, before we get too far into this, you should know that there are a couple spoilers in here, so this is the official spoiler’s alert, not that there’s a whole lot to spoil here…

So this film is George Romero’s latest installation in the zombie genre he started all those years ago with Night of the Living Dead. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t measure up compared to the first film that set the bar in the first place. Let’s start with the story…

The story doesn’t really offer anything in terms of surprise or even intrigue – we’ve seen it before: the dead come back to life with no explanation or resolution involved with the how or why of it all, they just show up. And of course, when someone is bitten, they die and come back as a zombie. There is a beginning and a middle to the story, but no real end, it just kind of keeps going. The main focus of the film centers around a group of students working on a film project when all of a sudden “it” happens, that is to say, zombies just start showing up and the mayhem ensues from there.

The students just want to make their way to their homes and families and happen to have cameras along. The director of the student film sees the current events as an opportunity and decides to chronicle everything so that people will know the truth about what’s been happening. Trouble is, he gets a bit too obsessed with shooting and just won’t turn the camera off, to the point where he’s willing to endanger his girlfriend and his fellow students for the sake of his footage. He meets his inevitable demise at one point during his shooting and to be honest, you’ll be glad when it happens as his character is a bit of a jerk so you end up without much sympathy for him or the girlfriend he leaves behind, she’s better off anyway.

The way the story is told is a bit low-budget, which is something that makes it interesting from a filmmaker standpoint. They use prosumer level cameras (the ones the students are shooting with) as the main camera equipment a la’ JJ Abrahams’ Cloverfield. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t play off as slickly as Cloverfield, although there is some clever use of cell phone footage along with a bit of stock news footage mixed in. All in all, the way the cameras are used as a clever (although not new) way of keeping the budget reasonable when shooting a film like this.

There’s no big name actors to speak of here and they’re all pretty average. There is some overacting, but noone really stands out as being either really good or really bad, they’re just kind of ok.

I wouldn’t watch this a second time, once was enough, I’ll save my viewing time for watching Night of the Living Dead again or Dawn of the Dead instead.

reviewed by Sean McKnight