April 2nd: Post post-modernity of the dead.

83. Diary of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2007)

Expectations were set low for this after the odd and very dull fourth installment of Romero’s zombie saga Land of the Dead. Fortunately this is a step back along a more interesting route. Eschewing the futurescape of the previous film Romero steps back to do another outbreak story. This time he’s more interested in the possibilities afforded by modern recording technologies. Yep, it’s a shakeycam extravaganza! A group of young film students are filming a horror film in the woods with their drunken Professor watching over the whole affair. They hear the news that something is happening and the zompocalypse is afoot! Crowded together in a camper van they attempt to find a safe place in the increasingly hostile American centre. It’s a return to comfortable territory for Romero as he hothouses  a group of characters (played by fairly poor actors unfortunately) and presents them with the new zombie world order. Only this time they are recording the events on a variety of media, sharing information via the internet and being part of a global experience. I’ve not really figured out exactly what it is that Romero is saying with this, there are constant radio snippets and minor diegetic intrusions that are constructing an idea of what has happened and why. They seem to hint at a political ideology for the film also but it’s never entirely clear – mainly he seems to be suggesting that we might not be reaching our potential as a race. I’d have to posit this as something of a return to form for Romero’s output as he’s ditched the zombie fetishisation of Land of the Dead and found something to say and a fresh way to say it. It’s far from perfect though – and singularly fails to be actually scary, which is poor form for a horror film. It also suffers horrendously when compared with the similar but excellent [.REC].

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