Thursday, February 21, 2008

Review: Diary of the Dead

Go for the brain, dumbass!

Diary of the Dead

I want to make one thing clear: Diary of the Dead emphatically does not deserve the 1.5 stars I have given it. It only gains them because it is a zombie movie and, yes, has some pretty sweet shots of zombies getting shot, getting stabbed, blowing up, eating brains, etc. The special effects are mostly CGI this time around, and they look pretty good, but they're nothing special - not as polished as 28 Days or Dawn of the Dead [2004) while lacking the charm of Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead.

Having gotten that out of the way, I want to make it clear that every single other element of Diary qualifies it for potential consideration as Worst Movie Ever. The director, zombie legend George Romeror, has gone on record saying he'll never make a zombie movie just for the fun of making a scary, gory zombie movie (ala the 2004 Dawn) but that all of his zombie movies must have a message. Shot, like the recent Cloverfield, in faux-documentary style, Diary is supposed to have some sort of a message about new media culture, the news, blogs, etc, but I'll be damned if I could tell you what that message was. Sometimes the mainstream media is to blame, sometimes its the bloggers, sometimes its regular people like you and me. Also, I don't know what any of these people would be to blame for, but it's something.

Possibly a full 3/4 of the film's dialogue (that is, all that's not something along the lines of "I don't see any of 'em here" or "go for the head!") is dedicated to this attempt at conveying a profound message. Our semi-protagonist Jason (I think that's his name. Probably.) has begun the movie as a bad horror filmmaker, who originally wanted to be a documentarian, and he sees the outbreak of zombieness as an avenue to tell the "truth" about the subject at hand. He's constantly making pseudo-profound statements like "I want everyone to know the truth about this" while the others in his band respond with crap like "the camera is changing your perspective on the events" or something. These are just examples. The actual dialogue is much worse. And remember, it's 3/4 of the dialogue.

The actors and characters are all such embarrassing types that I'm not going to bother to remember/lookup their names or even their types. The only semi-competent actor is (surprise!) the middle-aged professor supervising their project. Yes, the character is a stupid conglomeration of professor cliches (he's British, wears sweaters, loves bourbon, learned archery at Eton, etc) but the character is less cliched than the others, and the actor doesn't embarrass himself. Everyone else does.

All that being said, I would still recommend this movie, especially if you can round up a group to see it with - and have alcohol. Zombies are blown up with dynamite, melted with hydrochloric acid, fried with a defibrillator, tied to a tree branch by their hair and shot into tiny pieces with a shotgun, trapped in a swimming pool, stabbed with a scythe, etc. All of this is fairly awesome, and if you know going in that the other 9/10 of the movie is going to be so bad you can laugh at it, you can enjoy yourself. I managed to figure out the score early enough to have a good time.

1 comment:

Evan Derrick said...


How awful was that script? I thought I was going to die by way of idiocy. The major problem, in my mind at least, was that he attempted to create a documentary style with atrociously scripted dialogue. He needed to find really talented improvisationalists and get them ad-libbing the film, which would have given it that semi-docu feel. Mr. Romero, see Blair Witch for an example of this.

Ugh. Worst $8 I've spent in a long time.