Diary Of The Dead
"Romero has started all over again as though his other films exist in some parallel universe. Just to prove anything a younger director can do, he can do better, the whole thing is shot cinema-vérité style."

A group of student filmmakers and their professor are busy creating their own monster movie when disturbing reports of ambulatory corpses begin to filter through to them. Two of the group peel off and head back to a house they describe as a fortress and the rest sally forth in search of family aboard an RV. All the while, lead under-grad filmmaker, Jason Creed (Joshua Close) is determined to record all for posterity…

In 1969 George A Romero came up with a horror film that shook up the genre. Night Of The Living Dead featured a no-name cast, a no-name monster and, for its day, explicit horror moments. Although the zombie concept was not new, the presentation was. Ten years later, Romero and his zombies were back in a gloriously bloody satire on consumer society in Dawn Of The Dead. Seven years elapsed before the next installment – Day Of The Dead – and this time it was the military that was not to be trusted as the zombie hordes became the majority.

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With the trilogy complete, Romero sprung part IV, Land Of The Dead, on us after a 15-year flesh eating hiatus. An all together bigger film with a big-name cast, assorted CGI effects and Simon Pegg in a zombie cameo. But the film had lost the immediacy of his older efforts.

Suddenly, yes, suddenly after only two years – POW! - Diary Of The Dead. Here's the twist, this is no follow-up; Romero has started all over again as though the other films exist in some parallel universe. Just to prove anything a younger director can do, he can do better, the whole thing is shot cinema-vérité style by our fledgling film crew caught up in the zombie horror.

Romero has an agenda as usual, this time it is the internet and the ability of the masses to shape the collective conscience with potentially harmful feed, courtesy of 'citizen journalism'. This doesn't preclude Romero having his flesh and eating it, though, as the movie wouldn't exist without his upload obsessed student.

A harrowing road trip in the RV takes our small band of Michael Moore wanabee's to the local hospital wherein service has fallen below even Sicko's standards. Romero is at his best here, creating a claustrophobic hell packed with unpleasant incident.

With a 20-day shooting schedule, the cast had to ramp up the intensity after only a couple of read throughs, a bit more rehearsal time might have helped, as the youthful cast are occasionally a little stiff. A strained romantic triangle between Creed, Debra (Michelle Morgan) and Tony (Shawn Roberts) doesn't really go anywhere other than to prove that the sisters are doin' it for themselves.

Sore thumb, Scott Wentworth, however, is a hoot as the increasingly tipsy British-accented teacher, who turns out to be useful with a bow in the latter half of the movie. More comic relief is provided by a surprisingly resourceful mute Amish farmer, yet this all fits the story without throwing the thing into parody. There is a strange beauty in the small throw away moments of the film, such as a zombie laden swimming pool.

If you are paying attention, assorted radio broadcasts are voiced by Romero fans such as Quentin Tarantino, Simon Pegg and Guillermo del Toro with a religious rant by Stephen King, no less.

At the end of the day, it's "welcome back, George", you are a talented filmmaker – it's really a pity you've been stuck with zombie schtick for so long, but we're really, really glad to have you making movies and long may you continue to do so.

Reviewed on: 18 Feb 2008
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Film students try to record the end of civilisation as they know it when the dead begin to walk. Plus read our with George A Romero.
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Read more Diary Of The Dead reviews:

Scott Macdonald ****
Keith Hennessey Brown ***1/2
Chris **

Director: George A Romero

Writer: George A Romero

Starring: Michelle Morgan, Joshua Close, Shawn Roberts, Amy Ciupak Lalonde, Joe Dinicol, Scott Wentworth, Philip Riccio, Chris Violette, Tatiana Maslany, Nick Alachiotis, Matt Birman

Year: 2007

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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