Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.
There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters.
While filming a horror movie of mummy in a forest, the students and their professor of the University of Pittsburgh hear on the TV the news that the dead are awaking and walking. Ridley and Francine decide to leave the group, while Jason heads to the dormitory of his girlfriend Debra Monahan. She does not succeed in contacting her family and they travel in Mary's van to the house of Debra's parents in Scranton, Pennsylvania. While driving her van, Mary sees a car accident and runs over a highway patrolman and three other zombies trying to escape from them. Later the religious Mary is depressed, questioning whether the victims where really dead, and tries to commit suicide, shooting herself with a pistol. Her friends take her to a hospital where they realize that the dead are indeed awaking and walking and they need to fight to survive while traveling to Debra's parents house. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
George Romero's Diary Reveals Best Zombie Moments In Years!
Following 2005's release of Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead marks George A. Romero's immediate return to the subject of zombies. George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead tells the story of a group of young film students on location in the woods, filming their own horror film. This mix and matched group of twenty-somethings are accompanied by their disillusioned, alcoholic teacher with an understated flair for theatrics. While working on their film school thesis, consisting of a mummy chasing a buxom blond in a white dress, they become witness to a ghoulish outbreak. The young director, Jason, makes the immediate decision to film the events for posterity. He records the ensuing Armageddon as he slowly sinks into a whirlwind of obsession that precludes concerns for safety. This film is a daring re-imagining of Romero's own Night of the Living Dead and the initial zombie outbreak that results in the undead apocalypse of Romero's "Dead" series.
Unlike Cloverfield, this movie is not presented as "found footage", instead it is a finished student film that was uploaded to the Internet. Being that Diary of the Dead is what became of the student film-within-a-film "The Death of Death", this gives the director and editor in Romero free reign to be as pretentious as he likes. He deftly mixes the medium of the digital age by showing everything from Youtube clips to mini-camera footage to Myspace clips to newscasts ostensibly downloaded from the Internet for use in the film within the film. Romero has always been an economic editor with a knack for getting dynamic information across with as little cutting as possible and this multi-media Internet approach allows him to cover the spectrum of the digital medium. Romero, the director, has a painter's eye for compositions and can still set up a "boo!" scare with the best of them, however Diary of the Dead is not necessarily a scary film. It is an extremely horrifying film. The intercutting montages of the news and footage of zombie attacks create a terrifying tapestry of a world gone mad as well as eerily mirroring events in our world today. So much information comes to us in the brief clips and snippets culled from the Internet that it borders on information overload.
Romero paces the film perfectly. He speeds it up with moments of suspense with splashes of action or gore. When needing a break, Romero slows the film down with character moments involving Jason and Debra and their on-going debate about the propriety of recording these events. There are many ways to examine this film as I find myself wanting to see a subtext of criticism of the media for the desensitization of our society's attitudes towards violence. I'm not sure how to look at the film as yet, but I can see that my perception of it might shift drastically with subsequent viewings. There are also multiple ways to enjoy the film as pure entertainment as this film had some of the best zombie killings I've ever seen in a horror film. Some were implausible, and some were improbable, but there were some creative kills involving sharp objects and zombies and a few other things. There's something amazing that happens when a scythe and a zombie make like the four tongued red beaver. You have to see it to know what I'm talking about. The gore is fairly understated, but well used throughout. The most foreboding elements of the film are not the gore effects or even the death scenes, but the overall mood and atmosphere. There is a dark apocalyptic feeling that hangs over the film like a shadow. I find that the more I think about the juxtaposition of news, personal footage and the student film, that the more Diary of the Dead opens up for me. I'm always a sucker for films that lend themselves to interpretation and Diary of the Dead is no exception. It's easily the most innovative use of the medium since Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers.
The film takes itself deadly serious at times while at other moments planting it's rotting tongue squarely in cheek. There are some funny little character moments in the verbal exchanges between the film students. There are also some fall down, nearly slapstick level, humor at other moments. These moments approach the level of a wink into the camera to remind us that there is a certain level of fun to it all. Even though some might criticize the film for taking itself too seriously, Romero firmly acknowledges the stuffiness of the subject matter and reminds us that this is just a movie after all and so let's have fun with it.
Streebo rates George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead a 10 out of 10 screams on the Scream-o-meter. It is the first masterpiece of 2008.
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