Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Diary of the Dead (2007)


So I finally sat down and watched George A. Romero's "Diary of the Dead". I am a fan of Romero's, and I do like his work, but Diary is a film I was very much disappointed with. The premise is interesting. Have a bunch of students videotape there experiences as the Dead start coming back. Make them film students doing a horror film, and add your own irony to the film within the film. Throughout the film we the audience are subjected to the "narrator". You know the one who tells us what is happening and who tells us of her or his plight. In this case the narrator is Debra Moynihan played by Michelle Morgan. The narration seemed to get in the way for me. I felt detached and I didn't care at all about our protagonists. Also the narration is annoying at times. I can hear Romero hammering away at a point about civilization and whether we need saving or not. For freaking sake please! don't lecture me. I can figure this out myself. Ultimately the narration detracts from the story, and weakens the movie.

It seems as though Romero has also raided the stock footage cabinet. Romero has taken a lot of news footage from disasters, wars, and riots and added them into the film to portray the world gone made. I don't think this works effectively for me as well as the beginning of the Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" scene where the characters literally wakes up to a world of the dead, and Sarah Polley has to run for her life. The shot of a car zooming across the highway and one smashing into a gas station says it all. This all happens in the first few minutes of the film, and we know the world is in chaos. In Romero's "Diary of the Dead" he has none of that. Maybe it was due to budgetary constraints, and the way the film is set-up. I think Romero wants more of a personal view of the zombie outbreak, hence the name "Diary of the Dead", but that never happens for me.

Instead I'm introduced to various characters I really don't care about. I feel bad for the narrator Debra, but instead it feels like a video game, and not a very good video game. I always think that for a film to work you need to feel empathy or at least care about the character or characters. In this movie I didn't feel a thing.

There are some interesting effects in the film, but you can see that it was digitally enhanced, and that too takes a way from the film. Digital is good when done right, and done in scenes where you can hide it, but here its obvious that the effects are digital.

Also Romero is a victim of his budget. Romero adds a new side to the zombie film, but by now haven't we seen it all. The effects don't sell it anymore it's the story, and here it's the same old tale told a bit differently. In the end I just shut it off and realized I'd seen all this before, and wasn't interested in seeing it again. Sorry George, but Diary doesn't do it for me, and maybe it's time to move on to some more fertile ground. I still love ya, but in a media obsessed world Diary just makes me want to change the channel.

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