George A. Romero, known to zombie fans everywhere as the creator of the genre, gives us George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead, another installment of his immensely popular "Living Dead" series.
The Diary of the Dead is set at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and follows the efforts of a group of film school students as they struggle to both understand the phenomenon and stay alive. Unlike Romero's previous films, Diary is shot as if it were made by a bunch of film school students - a film, within a film. Usually such efforts at the 'documentary' style, seen in films like The Blair Witch Project and Quarantine tend to make me nauseous with the shakey camera angles. Diary does not do this. Though jerky in spots, the cameras are operated by characters with a supposed knowledge of how to work them, and I think that extra touch makes the movie more enjoyable and less likely to upset sensitive stomachs.
Romero has always used zombies as a backdrop to the points he wishes to make. There is no explanation as to why the dead are now rising, and the viewer is just as much in the dark as the characters. The true story is always in the way the characters react to the phenomenon and each other. Diary is no different, and Romero leads the viewer to the same place he leads his characters - looking at human nature as it reacts to the death of civilization and wondering if there is anything worth saving. Romero compares human nature to the zombie and asks which is more monstrous. His characters, at least, are unable to answer.
There are several comedic high points in the movie as well (Be sure to look for Samuel!). One point Romero takes the time to make in this movie (and the only one I'm willing to reveal) makes me smile. Two years ago, hubby and I sat in a crowded auditorium at Dragon Con waiting to hear the Zombie Master speak. One person in the crowd navigated his way to the mike and asked his question. "What do you think of fast-moving zombies?" the fan asked. Romero answered quite clearly and without hesitation - "If it's running, then it isn't a zombie." He takes care to ram that point home during a couple of memorable scenes in the movie. "The undead don't move fast!" says Jason Creed, one of the lead characters in the movie. "Their ankles would snap off!" And ain't it just the truth?
This is a movie well worth your time, even if you are not a long time horror fan. Though slow in some spots, the acting more than makes up for it. Consider this flick a noteworthy addition to the genre.