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Diary of the Dead
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103 out of 148 people found the following review useful:

oh dear

6/10
Author: Painbow from United Kingdom
12 July 2008

I have always admired the films of Romero and there can be no doubt that he is the godfather of zombie films. Alas, i think he should have finished his zombie career with day of the dead. Land of the dead certainly wasn't a bad film and this is far from the worst i've ever seen but the step down is none the less noticeable. The modern cinematic world owes a lot to Romero but it's clear that the modern cinematic world has moved on from him.

Lets start with the main problems(and ignore the million little ones):-

1. An idiot who keeps filming even when he or his friends are in danger (at no point does the brilliant idea of putting the camera down occur to him)

2. A narrator that appears to have edited the film so that it looks polished and yet who chooses to leave in the moments when the camera goes off or turns black

3. A narrator (and editor) who thinks incidental music should be added for tension (imagine those who filmed 9/11 doing the same and you will arrive at the same tasteless nature of this)

4. A narrator (and editor) who wishes for us to witness her rotting corpse family attack her (journalists may pretend to put journalistic integrity before emotional involvement but this is perverse)

5. An allegory for the war in Iraq (we aren't being given the full information etc) that needs to be endlessly repeated.

6. The notion that they needed to film everything to show the world the truth (like walking zombies wouldn't do it for most people)

7. Romero getting the opportunity to remind everyone that he thinks zombies should be slow (and reminding us again and again)

This isn't an absolutely awful film by any stretch but in relation to the history and reputation of Romero, it is alas.....somewhat of an embarrassment

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62 out of 95 people found the following review useful:

Not Romero's Finest Hour!!!

3/10
Author: andell (andell1@juno.com) from Toronto, Canada
24 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sometimes, user comments on IMDb can be misleading! One comment recently suggested that this film is Romero returning to his roots, and suggested that this film ranks up there with the best of his 'dead' films. Respectfully, I disagree...very, VERY MUCH!

For those not familiar, the Dead trilogy went like this: 1- Night of the Living Dead: the dead return to life and terrorize the panicked individuals who have taken refuge in a rural home. 2- Dawn of the Dead: Romero's BEST, for those who don't know it; when society finds itself unable to contain the dead's movements, a small group hole up in a mall and find a small utopia in the commercial appeal after society's downfall. 3- Day of the Dead: Government, mostly at the prodding of the military forces, take refuge on Islands off the coast of the US, trying to find either an answer to take back the world (the military approach), or to live with the 'dead' (the scientific approach). 4- Land of the Dead: Society breaks down into colonies controlled by those who have the wealth and power to command military like forces and both the dead and the poor are subjected to abuse in these colonial like establishments.

As you can see, there was a progress to Romero's films- political commentary definitely was loaded in the films. For some reason however, Romero decided to make this film, which in a nut shell, is about a group of students who, while making a cheesy monster movie, find themselves in the middle of chaos and decide to document it. A la "The Blair Witch Project" (which is far superior!) and "Cloverfield."

One by one, most of the students are dispatched as they make their way across Pennsylvania in search of their families- though if you sit through the first five minutes of the film, the narrative tells you: a) the film is already over; and b) an effort to edit it in order to emphasize its fear factor has been made to 'wake you up.' The latter part is rather peculiar given that the film maker goes as far as to watch his friends being attacked by the dead, without helping them, in order to capture exactly what happened.

Does that seem parasitic? What is perhaps even more sickening is that the 'film maker' seems more concerned with 'hits' his video gets online than the well being of his friends, or that after he falls victim to an attacker, he's essentially regarded as a noble hero by one of the survivors.

I really didn't like this film, although it was clear that the crowds at the theater did enjoy some of the originality of the gore (in one scene, one of the dead is shocked with an EMP machine in a hospital, causing their eyes to explode, but not killing them). My advice: if you are tired of seeing shills that try to find the same pulse that the Blair Witch Project successfully exploited, or if you want to retain an idea that Romero's dead trilogy stands as a firm example of positive movie making, avoid this dud!

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32 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Romero embraces the Youtube age……and its' short attention span

6/10
Author: motsivad from Oxford, England
10 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Diary Of The Dead is a film in which George A. Romero tackles the digital age, and the information barrage that it brings us. Rolling news, Youtube, Podcasts, Myspace are the media of choice for an era where information is global, instant and 24/7. It is in this climate that the 'Dead' franchise gets the Blair Witch Project. We follow a group of young film students who find themselves having to band together after the dead start returning to life. Seeing the magnitude of the event a few of the troupe take it upon themselves to record a document of their plight for survival. It is this 'life through a lens' that gives us Diary Of The Dead.

To expand on the cataclysmic events Romero uses footage from news channels, video blogs and web cams. The accessibility of the Internet mirrors the wildfire decline of humanity as the zombies take over and society collapses. However if there is one thing that defines this Internet era, it is short attention spans.

Sadly this pandering to the Youtube generation is what seems to sum up 'Diary'. The strength behind the previous 'Dead' movies was that the survivors were stationary and holed up (whether it be in a shopping mall or bunker). As such it was the banality of their existence that became even more unnerving than the zombie threat. In 'Diary' the action is kinetic and the editing very fast-paced, as if Romero is keen to hold the short attention span of a young audience that now lives off 1 minute video clips, and skim-read 'Wikipedia' articles. As such the characters never stay in the same place for more than 5 minutes, as the scene hopping goes into overdrive.

I'm sad to say that 'Diary' smacks of compromise. Romero inserts his typical biting social commentary, but it's often blunted by a desire to make the film palatable enough to younger generations and audiences. Trying to make reflective points about humanity when they're delivered by identikit good-looking young actors (who look more suited to being in 'The O.C') feels akin to having 'Hamlet' read out by Lindsay Lohan.

Also Romero's hand seems forced to add the checklist of 'teen' horror clichés.

'Gross Out' deaths- Check

Ditzy Blonde Girl- Check

Older 'world weary' authority figure- Check (The professor)

Zombie jumping out from side of frame- Check

Big scary mansion finale- Check

Despite its' flaws, 'Diary Of The Dead' is worth seeing simply for the glimmerings of Romero's post 9/11 views. Ironically, it is modern culture that not only embraces 'Diary' but also forces Romero to dumb down. 'Diary' is a flawed, experimental film from Romero, however a flawed Romero is far more challenging and interesting than 99% of the competition. An honorable 'miss' of a film that sees the master of zombie movies bound by the requirements of commercial success.

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46 out of 71 people found the following review useful:

Lights, camera and . . . . . . can we have some action?

6/10
Author: tyler-and-jack from Edinburgh.
14 May 2008

George A. Romero, king of the zombie movie, returns with a new . . . . . zombie movie. Well "if it ain't broke" and all that. The plot concerns a group of students who are making a horror movie one moment, supervised by a heavy-drinking professor, and then finding themselves trying to survive the next as everyone realises that, yep, those pesky corpses are getting up for a wander once again. The twist this time around is that Romero has decided to join the current crop of filmmakers who have gone down the DV, hand-held, cinema verite path but how does his outing compare to theirs? Pretty unfavourably, I'm sad to say. Sharing one of the major negative points that turned me off Cloverfield (the making you want to shout "just stop filming and help save your own damn ass" sensation) and none of the positives from, for example, {Rec} or Noroi or even The Blair Witch Project means that it makes for a difficult movie to like, although I suspect it will end up becoming just as divisive as all of those.

Unfortunately, there's also a problem with the intelligent, thought-provoking side of things. Romero's zombie movies have always contained some underlying social commentary but here it actually gets in the way of the more entertaining moments and proves to be too much of a distraction thanks to the unusual heavy-handedness from Romero and too much repetition.

The points made ARE interesting (about media by the masses for the masses, how images can be edited to show the version of events that you prefer, etc) but they simply do not gel in the zombie uprising storyline.

Luckily, the effects on display are handled much better and, although not all of them are 100% on target, most of them are well-realised and seamlessly done so that they never remind you that you are watching fake "real" footage.

The acting is okay, the shuffling zombies are up to standard and there are definitely moments here that will please fans (not least the comments on horror movies in general and a reminder of why zombies don't run) but I must say, at great risk of personal insult and/or injury, that on a basic entertainment level I even preferred the much-maligned Day Of The Dead remake to this movie for it's zombie carnage and fun.

Having said that, I did love every zombie moment featured in "Diary", it's just a shame that they weren't framed by a much better movie.

See this if you like: Land Of The Dead, The Last Broadcast, George A. Romero.

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30 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Has Romero sunk so low?

1/10
Author: Mat from United Kingdom
8 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What is it with the classic directors; Spielberg, Carpenter, and now Romero, that they seem to produce such abysmal drivel as they get older? Dennis Leary once joked that Elvis should have been killed young so that people only remembered him at his best. If that was true, then Romero should have joined him before this dross was made.

Like reality TV, these stupid home movie within a movie offerings are popular at the moment, probably because they're cheap to make. Blair Witch has a lot to answer for. If Cloverfield left you cold, this movie will give you rigor mortis, with its aimless plot, its set-piece action, and its massively, completely unimaginative, by the numbers encounters.

To say that the basic premise of this film is ridiculous, is a huge understatement - and I'm not talking about the zombies either! Even if you accept that the film is set in a world where zombies can exist, I simply refuse to accept that anyone would tolerate the lead character constantly filming instead of helping his friends to survive. In the real world, I think it would be a dead cert that one of his friends would either have fed him to a zombie, or at very least, smashed the hell out of his camera to re-engage him with the real world.

This is script writing at its laziest and least convincing.

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102 out of 186 people found the following review useful:

Romero's Return To His Roots

8/10
Author: Mike Reed (mikeisawesome17) from United States
24 January 2008

George A. Romero is one of those filmmakers who shouldn't need an introduction. If you're a horror fan at all, you should be intimately familiar with his Dead series by now, and if you're a movie fan at all, you should at least know Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead, the first and still the strongest entries in the genre. It's no hyperbole to say that Romero essentially invented the zombie movie, gave it the structures and tones that have relentlessly followed the genre through 40 years of movie history.

Diary Of The Dead, Romero's new movie and latest entry into the 5-part series, is a return to the form and feel of his original classic Night Of The Living Dead. The three movies in between (the classic Dawn, hit-or-miss Day and severely underrated Land) showed a world consumed by destruction and fear, already well past the point of no return in an unthinkable apocalypse. Diary takes us back to the beginning, taking place during the first few days of the attacks, documenting how a group of college students (and one drunken professor) cope with the crisis growing around them.

The hook of the movie is that what we're seeing is not presented in a typical film fashion, but instead as a series of homemade video clips made by the characters themselves. While shooting their own low-budget horror movie, the students are interrupted by the sudden, jarring realization that freshly dead bodies are coming back to life and attacking people. What follows is a documentation of their quick departure from their suddenly deserted campus and their long trip to home, safety and any sort of an answer.

If the plot description has you thinking of The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield, the comparison ends with the initial conceit of horror via home movies. There's no shaky-cam addled suspense here, and you won't ever feel motion sick. The camera's presence in the movie serves to give a heightened feeling of suspense and immediacy. Unlike most other zombie movies, there's no outside camera telling the story, letting us know where the zombies are and when they're coming. We follow the characters through the movie, and the threat of danger is always palpable, even when nothing on screen is particularly frightening. Hitchcock once said that surprise was a bomb going off under a table unexpectedly, while suspense was letting the audience know there is a bomb under the table while the characters remain unaware. Diary is a movie with thousands of bombs waiting under thousands of tables, waiting to explode every time the camera turns a new corner.

After Land Of The Dead, a great movie that felt buried beneath a huge budget and massive studio interference, it's great to see Romero returning to his indie roots. Diary is entirely his own movie, and he gets the tone perfect. The campy scares and the gross-out gore explosions are all present, and will delight fan boys to no end. (They sure got some big laughs out of me.) But what Romero does best is suddenly switch from fun to disturbing when you least expect it. The best moments of Diary come when the gory thrill ride comes screeching to a halt and everything suddenly becomes all too relatable, entirely too real. These are the moments that will stick with you after the gory brain-splatter effects have lost their novelty.

Diary isn't quite a perfect movie though. Occasionally the hand-held camera device becomes too distracting and begins to get in the way of the story. The movie takes too much time rationalizing why the characters decide to film the events, rather than trusting the audience to go along with the idea. At times it feels like the movie is apologizing for its own concept, which it definitely does not need to do. We don't need to know the details of why the movie is edited, or why music has been added. The explanations slow down the movie, and only highlight problems instead of fixing them. Also, the pace slows down quite a bit in the third act, which is when Romero movies usually jolt up to a fevered pitch. Stick it out though, because the movie's last sequence, and especially its last line of dialog, are worth the price of admission alone. This is most likely not the end of the Dead saga, but if it were, it could not have come to a more perfect conclusion than the jarring, horrific last shot Romero gives us.

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29 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Astronomical Disappointment!!!

6/10
Author: tungfliker from United States
20 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just saw "Diary of the Dead" last weekend. I'm not saying I hated it, but I was very disappointed. I can appreciate the concept, but George really dropped the ball here. I think the main failure, is that this type of film (P.O.V.) is out of Romero's element. Given the right tools and scenario, George Romero is a master. But, the guy just isn't cut out for "Cloverfield" or "Blair Witch" type stuff. Another fault-too many characters, making half baked decisions, solely for the purpose of putting themselves, or companions, in danger. I really expected more from a filmmaker of this caliber. Also, the only character I REALLY liked, was the drunkard professor.

It's a damned shame, cause this was a pretty cool idea. Obviously not enough preproduction was done.

The DP does NOT know how to properly simulate P.O.V. shooting.

Having a music score was absurd! An equally eerie effect, could have been achieved using total silence combined with simple, unnerving sounds. Think of the scene in "Das Boot" where the U69 is lying on the bottom, and all that can be heard among the silence is a ticking stopwatch, drips of water, and the hull groaning.

Jason was such a self absorbed jackass, that NOBODY cares what he has to say, or what happens to him. Also, even an douche like Jason, will put the camera down to save his own ass. There should have been scenes (like when Tracy is being chased thru the woods, or the hospital) where Jason sits down the camera to help out. The camera could have recorded part of the image, or shadows, along with sound to keep the audience abreast of what's happening. Not seeing everything could have been used to create suspense, and give Jason a chance not to be such a schmuck.

Samuel was whacked far too soon. He was too interesting to kill off so fast. He shouldn't have been killed, until the heart attack guy was loose in the "Black Panther" compound. Plus, imagine the possibilities of Samuel and a deaf Black Panther, hitting it off thru sign language. This was such a wasted chance for interesting character development.

I think it's great that George wants to make a social comment, but Effin' A man-lighten up!

Spoiled, multi-millionaire kid is wearing the same grungy mummy costume for three days, after he's back home in a huge mansion, with a huge wardrobe? NOT! This is totally unbelievable! I know George wanted to have his mummy chase at the end. But, the guy's clothing could be dirty/disheveled enough from dragging around the undead, that it would have a mummy-like appearance. Thus, the sight gag would still work, and be a lot more realistic.

A 100 lb kid being thrown against, and pinned to the wall, off the floor, by an aluminum arrow? It defies the most basic physics! Nobody is buying it. The sister should have thrown him off her back, against the wall. Then he should have been shot with the arrow. And instead of staying pinned to the wall, after a second, the arrow should have snapped. The kid sliding to the floor, and leaving a skid mark of blood and brains, would have been a more shocking visual to boot.

Oh-and with the exception of about four cast members, the acting licked turds!

George Romero still has my utmost respect. But while a nice try, on this venture I give him a C minus. George-now that a sequel is in the works, PLEASE use better preproduction this time. And find a crew with the stones to tell you if something is a bad idea-instead of those who would blow smoke up your ass. I think those Canadians are afraid of offending the master....unlike us Yinzers, who regard George as "a nice guy to drink an Ahrn City with."

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22 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Horrifying, not in a good way

1/10
Author: ZRambeau from United States
17 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Short Background, I LOVE ZOMBIE FILMS.

not this one.

I was eager to throw on this "Groundbreaking" film. I was told that Romero had come up with a new and interesting twist to the world of the living dead. HE DID NOT.

Most Zombie films don't tote the biggest name actors or the highest budget. What they do have is a loyal cult following. George Romero especially. I watched this film with two other people, my cousin who is into ridiculous gore and lots of decapitations, my father who enjoys inventive twists and good dialog, and myself, i lie in between these two. We were all disappointed. There were barely any zombies. The characters were idiotic and unlikable. The use of the internet was somewhat inventive but turned out dumb because Romero overkilled the animosity it generated within the core characters. The acting was atrocious, understandable right? Zombie flicks love to use unknowns. At least in movies like flight of the living dead there was some comedy, about the only good thing other than the deaths. The dialog was idiotic at parts and border line Ayn Rand at others, the use of profuse philosophy creates an awkwardness in films, even more so when its not consistent. Having said all that, there was one part I did enjoy.

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36 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

Interesting script - Weak characters - Bad actors.

4/10
Author: fettmedrespekt from Norway
12 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First of all: I'm a huge fan of Romero's first three (quite disappointed with Land of the Dead) classic Dead movies, and have great respect and admiration for his work and the influence he and his movies have had on the entire horror movie genre. Along with Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, Romero is without any doubt one of the most influential and important horror/splatter/zombie directors of all time. No question about it!

In Diary, Romero once again focuses on a few surviving people and the relationships between them, rather than the zombies and the gore. This is what has always made his movies great and powerful. In all his films, the zombies themselves work mostly as a reason to explain why a small group of very different people is suddenly forced to rely on, and help each other out, while the main focus is on the relationships between these people and the reactions and emotions that might erupt during such an extreme and interesting situation as a zombie outbreak.

While this formula is what has made his previous films interesting and entertaining, it is sadly what makes Diary of the Dead the exact opposite. And the reason for that are simply the actors. The main characters are all (except one) film school students, being just as shallow and cocky as every other cast of kids in any other "new" horror movie. The actors (all being young and unknown) seem quite inexperienced, and they all fail miserably to convince me, even for a second, that this is anything other than a bad student movie, trying desperately to be something more than it really is. And when ONE single interesting character (the mute Amish man armed with a scythe) is finally introduced, he sure doesn't stick around for very long.

A movie like this depends heavily on the actors, and when you seriously wish the entire cast would turn into zombies, just so they can shut up, the entire film, including the once great director, has failed.

The script itself, on the other hand, is actually quite good. There are some annoying things, like at the beginning when a couple of kids decides to leave school and go home and fortify themselves in a mansion, based solely on a radio broadcast, reporting about 6 cases of "strange zombie-like attacks". But over all it is an interesting script and I totally understand what Mr. Romero had in mind, and what he hoped to accomplish. Too bad the actors ruined it for him. A group of kids/students can also never be as interesting as a group of real grownups from different parts of society (as in Dawn of the Dead), and I really hope that Romero will leave the kids alone and once more focus on interesting characters, would he ever decide to do another movie (there are rumors of a Diary of the Dead part 2).

Better luck next time.

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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Romero is officially in his old age

3/10
Author: yogsottoth (yogsottoth@hotmail.com) from Ankara, Turkey
28 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

**Nothing in my comment will spoiler the movie more than it already was but still if you have issues with spoilers don't read the last paragraph**

Let me start by saying Romero is one of my favorite horror film makers since he gave me such a fright with his Dead trilogy when I was a kid, especially with Dawn of the Dead that I was unable to sleep without my dad keeping watch for months (poor guy). No one, I mean no one, ever frightened me like that again. Therefore I will always love and respect him, no matter what. But the truth be told, Diary of the Dead is such a lame and amateurish film that Land of the Dead which I didn't like very much, looks like a masterpiece compared to this.

You know the story, a couple of unlikable characters who are making a horror movie in the woods realize that there's an actual break-out going on in the world and they set off to find their families (more like to find one person's family in the group) and decide to film the whole thing while they're at it. And that's it... That's the whole story.

The rest is a sad portrait of Romero trying to fill in the blanks between his fantasy zombie-killing methods which are absolutely lame and stretched like shocking a zombie with a defibrillator, or breaking a bottle of strong acid on a zombie's head and while you don't even hurt a finger the zombie's skull melts in seconds. And don't even get me started on that stretched-as-hell clown zombie scene. It's so obvious that Romero only focused on realizing his fantasies and ideas he's been accumulating for years that he didn't give a flying f*** what the movie looked like.

However, Romero uses this lack-of-a-story aspect wisely and fills the whole vast space with his "and the message of this movie ladies and gentlemen..." card. It makes me really sad to think that he used to deliver these rightful messages quite subtle back in his day but now he simply blabbers trying to attack a different aspect of society this time: The Mass Media. He also makes use of the internet, the blogs and mobile phones as well as anything that records, probably in order to catch the attention of the youth audience. However, he's not only clearly displaying his absolute lack-of-info on all this technology but he also fails with delivering his "Media is bad" message.

All through the movie everyone is talking about "finding the truth the media hides" and they go as far as to make a movie to tell everyone this "truth" which is: "the zombies are real". This point of the movie was so absurd that I was shocked anyone could write such a senseless script let alone our beloved Romero. All our characters first hears the news from the radio, every section of the media repeatedly reports that "dead returning to life" which is quite a bold statement enough already for the first day but still, there's this whole "media is hiding the truth and we should uncover it" thing strained throughout the movie that it makes you want to scream "What's there to hide?! Everyone is dead already!" Also, exactly why our characters make a documentary and which survivor would waste their time watching something they've already been through is unclear. There are so many holes with this whole internet and documentary angle that I won't go any further.

Finally, lovable characters we are used to seeing in Romero's movies whom you root for, are gone. We have the cliché all-star team of slasher movies. None of them are believable or likable. Just check out the "hilarious" joke one of them makes upon seeing their very first zombie. Or the incredibly fast emotional recovery of the blonde girl who has just lost her boyfriend. The super-brave lead actress who don't think twice before frying a zombie in her first actual close-up encounter. How about the lead guy who never drops his camera like it's super-glued to his hands (This is the biggest, the most striking negative the movie has). And the wise professor who keeps on delivering poetic lines while you keep asking "What the hell is this guy doing here and what's with that hilarious set of bow and arrows?"

There are so many more things to say but I'll let you enjoy determining those on your own since there are plenty.

All in all, we friggin love you Romero, but this movie completely and utterly sucks.

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