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Diary of the Dead
Review Written by: Alex Sandell
A bunch of bad actors sit around acting badly.
The first 5 or 10 minutes of George A. Romero's 5th entry in his seemingly un-killable Dead series, Diary of the Dead are the best 5 or 10 minutes in any zombie film since he created and released the original Dawn of the Dead,
2 decades ago. While the rest of the movie never comes close to
living up to the promise of its introductory scene, it does have a
handful of memorable scares and enough chilling moments to give it the
edge over its predecessor, 2005's Land of the Dead.
Still, bad acting and surprisingly poor dialog hold it back from the
classic status it could have achieved with a little fine-tuning.
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There has been social commentary in all 5 George A. Romero Dead films -- usually tackling one "ism" or the other. In the first (Night of the Living Dead) it was racism. In the second (Dawn of the Dead) it was consumerism. In the third (Day of the Dead) we had feminism. The fourth (Land of the Dead) was capitalism. Diary of the Dead
takes on media, MySpace and YouTube (bloggism?). Romero's message this
time around is as in-your-face as the gore -- passing up sub-text for
text and bashing us over the head time and time again with its own
self-importance. But despite screaming its message from the
rafters it says the least of all 5 of his zombie pictures -- especially
the more subtle, but significantly more startling Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.
Another trademark of Romero's Dead
films are the characters. They are usually memorable, believable and
likeable. If not likeable, their reasons for being despicable are at
least somewhat comprehensible. Not so with Diary of the Dead (or Land of the Dead, for that matter). The main characters in Diary of the Dead
are poorly written contrivances and the only 2 intriguing characters in
the film that could possibly stand with the characters introduced in
the first 3 Dead
relegated to supporting roles. It's disappointing that George Romero
took the easy way out by focusing his script on walking, talking
cliches rather than daring to put the focus where it belonged with the
unique folks met when the film makes brief detours into the realm of
challenging characters with interesting motives. Seriously, who
couldn't love a deaf Amish zombie hunter fighting off the undead with
18th century technology? This guy should get his own movie.
There is no getting around the fact that Diary of the Dead
is a disappointment when it comes to acting, character development and
dialog. At the same time, it does deliver a handful of passable scares, a
haunting atmosphere and gobs of gore. The gore gags, while not nearly as
creative or graphic as what make-up maestro Tom Savini delivered in Dawn or Day, improves greatly over Land and should please any diehard Romero fan. The kill involving an Amish gentleman is one of the best in any Dead
flick and gets an amazing reaction from the audience. The kind of
reaction not heard in theaters since Savini himself was busy working
the blood and guts. Many of the scares score and the overall tone of
the film leaves you with a feeling of unease as you quietly exit the
Don't go into this one expecting a horror masterpiece from the master
of horror. Go in expecting a noble attempt from a former master and you
won't leave disappointed. Sure, lowering expectations to heighten
enjoyment isn't how a movie that starts with such a bang should have to
be handled, but it is what it is and it is a step up from Land of the Dead
and a sufficiently creepy reboot of Romero's classic franchise from
George A. Romero himself. It's not all that it could have been, but
it's far more than most of us expected from a director still writing,
producing, directing and even acting (he has a cameo in this one) at a
time when many of his peers have given up on the horror genre or
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©2007 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. Copy this without my
permission and I'll sick an ass-kicking deaf Amish with a scythe on your ass. That's right ... I went there.