Director: George A. Romero
Written by: George A. Romero
Cast: Michelle Morgan, Joshua Close, Shawn Roberts, Amy Lalonde
Year / Country: 2007, USA
Running Time: 95 mins.
Romero is back in form after the mixed reception of Land of the Dead. Once again he successfully combines social satire with zombie horror. Diary of the Dead is not part of the timeline established in Romero’s earlier ‘Dead’ films. It stands on its own as the new millennium update of his zombie world in which media is the central theme.
The movie starts with a common news story that has an uncommon outcome. A man has killed his wife and daughter and then turned the gun on himself. As their bodies are carried out on stretchers, filmed by a TV-crew, they come back to life and start attacking the social workers and media present at the scene. This is the beginning of a new living dead outbreak.
The movie continues with a group of film students who are shooting a low-budget horror flick. Their accompanying tutor describes it as a stupid horror movie with a social satire red line (as in a Romero movie). During the shoot, the first signs of crisis start showing and the crew decides to drive back home to Pittsburgh (Romero’s home and regular film setting). Soon after, they end up in a massive crisis that is as bloody as it is devastating.
Diary of the Dead brings back some of the elements that made Romero’s older movies so brilliant. The scenes in which zombies and humans are killed off in inventive and gruesome ways haven’t been done this well since Romero’s ultimate masterpiece Dawn of the Dead. It also contains hilarious lines and situations which make this probably Romero’s funniest film to date.
The underlying social satire is also fairly well communicated. The media controls our lives. Everybody now has the means to display their vision using cameras and the internet. But as we see in this film, footage is easily manipulated (this movie is edited during the story), so how can we ever know what’s really going on? And even if we can, does it even matter? The media makes us insensitive to the world around us and cruelty rapidly becomes normal.
Are we worth saving? Decide for yourself.
Biography: George A. Romero (1940, New York), who lived in Pittsburgh, made his feature debut with Night of the Living Dead. It was a low budget zombie movie that was both groundbreaking and shocking in its time. Quickly, it became a major horror classic. He then directed some smaller, personal films in which he often combined horror and social commentary. In 1978 he topped the success of Night of the Living Dead with his brilliant follow-up Dawn of the Dead. In the eighties his career stagnated a bit when he created the third part in his zombie series Day of the Dead. It was a failure both commercially and critically. In 2005 Romero made a small comeback with Land of the Dead. Romero died in 2017.
Filmography (a selection): Night of the Living Dead (1968) / There’s Always Vanilla (1971) / Season of the Witch (1972) / The Winners (1973, TV episodes) / The Crazies (1973) / O.J. Simpson: Juice on the Loose (1974, TV doc) / Martin (1977) / Dawn of the Dead (1978) / Knightriders (1981) / Creepshow (1982) / Day of the Dead (1985) / Monkey Shines (1988) / Two Evil Eyes (1990) [with Dario Argento] / The Dark Half (1993) / Bruiser (2000) / Land of the Dead (2005) / Diary of the Dead (2007) / Survival of the Dead (2009)
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