I finally got around to seeing “Diary of the Dead,” the latest zombie flick from George “Dawn of the Dead” Romero.
It pretty much received universal bad reviews from horror geeks, and they’re not a discerning bunch.
“Diary of the Dead” is about the zombie apocalypse — you know, the dead inexplicably come to life and eat the living — told from the point of view of a group of University of Pittsburgh film students.
Zombie movies — a genre invented by Romero — are great because they work on so many levels. The original “Dawn of the Dead” was part action movie, part survival flick, part horror film, part gore flick, part dark comedy — with an underlying context of social commentary.
“Diary of the Dead” fails because Romero takes that last part — social commentary — and makes it the movie’s first priority. Don’t trust the media, the government lies, cameras and computers anesthetize the masses, etc.
The movie is filled with moments of brilliance. A brief cameo by a deaf backwoods farmer. A sequence in a hospital. A scene where acid is used to bring down a zombie.
The characters’ journey through a zombiefied Pennsylvania approaches a “Heart of Darkness,” epic status, even though the film was made on a low budget.
But Romero derails his film at every turn by having his characters literally talk to the camera to deliver his “message.”
Further killing the film is a forced, completely unnecessary voiceover — again, just so his characters can deliver the “message.”
And I won’t even mention the professor who is introduced sipping from a flask. The guy’s a walking cliche who hangs around for far too long.
While most consider “Diary of the Dead” a failure, Romero is apparently working on a sequel. I’m looking forward to it, assuming he leaves the Captain Obvious social and political commentary behind.