Diary of the Dead is a found-footage zombie movie, offering a different and more personal perspective on a familiar story. This is not the first nor will it be the last movie to feature this package. However, it is coming to us from the man who invented the zombie genre itself, George A. Romero. As you probably know, I’m not the biggest fan of the found-footage movement. I especially didn’t like Blair Witch Project and all the buzz the movie subsequently created. This doesn’t mean that there are no good fount-footage horror movies. For example, the Spanish masterpiece REC is excellent and it has a huge replay value.
When it comes to the movie we’re going to be talking about today, it’s neither here nor there. You can clearly see that this is an effort aimed at younger audiences. Diary of the Dead is the fifth movie in the “of the Dead” franchise. It comes after Land of the Dead 2005 and before Survival of the Dead 2009, comfortably sitting in the middle of the modern of the Dead trilogy. We will be following a group of students as they document the first few days of the zombie outbreak. This is a small project and despite Romero’s involvement, we can consider it an indie zombie movie.
The budget was just $2 million so don’t expect any wonders when it comes to the production values. However, you should know that the make-up will be great and the zombies will look disgustingly believable. If you’re an experienced director who knows all the right people, you can do wonders with just two mills. Luckily, we won’t be pinned down in a single location, something that would be disastrous with a script this weak. No sir, we will be roaming the great state of Pennsylvania and trying to evade zombies. A sort of a road movie experience with a twist.
After a strange incident involving a dead woman coming back to life, everyone in the US seems to be on edge. Everyone but a group of students stuck in the woods filming their latest project, a horror movie with mummies. However, after they stumble upon a burning car and a cop who should be dead but is not, they too will realize what’s going on. What follows is a tale as old as time, survival.
The relatively unknown cast did a good job led by charismatic Michelle Morgan. The first-person perspective makes Diary of the Dead feel like a video game. And Romero did manage to create a pretty intense atmosphere. Too bad I didn’t care about any of the characters. It was also interesting to see the world slowly turn into the post-apocalyptic wasteland we usually instantly get in these movies. I can’t wait to see the new television show The Walking Dead as it appears to be exploring some of the same issues.
Finally, I recommend Diary of the Dead only to zombie movies fans. It’s just too contrived and disjointed to appeal to others. And it’s not as bad as they say it is. It’s just different, that’s all.