Diary of the Dead (2007)

Horror
Michelle Morgan, Joshua Close, Shawn Roberts, Amy Lalonde
A group of young film students run into real-life zombies while filming a horror movie of their own.
As Diary of the Dead proves, time hasn't subdued George A. Romero's affection for mixing politics with gore, nor has it given him cinematic grace or subtlety.
  • The Weinstein Company Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 07 Mar 2008 Released:
  • 20 May 2008 DVD Release:
  • $0.7M Box office:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

Not Romero's Finest Hour!!!3/10
Sometimes, user comments on IMDb can be misleading! One comment recently suggested that this film is Romero returning to his roots, and suggested that this film ranks up there with the best of his 'dead' films. Respectfully, I disagree...very, VERY MUCH!

For those not familiar, the Dead trilogy went like this: 1- Night of the Living Dead: the dead return to life and terrorize the panicked individuals who have taken refuge in a rural home. 2- Dawn of the Dead: Romero's BEST, for those who don't know it; when society finds itself unable to contain the dead's movements, a small group hole up in a mall and find a small utopia in the commercial appeal after society's downfall. 3- Day of the Dead: Government, mostly at the prodding of the military forces, take refuge on Islands off the coast of the US, trying to find either an answer to take back the world (the military approach), or to live with the 'dead' (the scientific approach). 4- Land of the Dead: Society breaks down into colonies controlled by those who have the wealth and power to command military like forces and both the dead and the poor are subjected to abuse in these colonial like establishments.

As you can see, there was a progress to Romero's films- political commentary definitely was loaded in the films. For some reason however, Romero decided to make this film, which in a nut shell, is about a group of students who, while making a cheesy monster movie, find themselves in the middle of chaos and decide to document it. A la "The Blair Witch Project" (which is far superior!) and "Cloverfield."

One by one, most of the students are dispatched as they make their way across Pennsylvania in search of their families- though if you sit through the first five minutes of the film, the narrative tells you: a) the film is already over; and b) an effort to edit it in order to emphasize its fear factor has been made to 'wake you up.' The latter part is rather peculiar given that the film maker goes as far as to watch his friends being attacked by the dead, without helping them, in order to capture exactly what happened.

Does that seem parasitic? What is perhaps even more sickening is that the 'film maker' seems more concerned with 'hits' his video gets online than the well being of his friends, or that after he falls victim to an attacker, he's essentially regarded as a noble hero by one of the survivors.

I really didn't like this film, although it was clear that the crowds at the theater did enjoy some of the originality of the gore (in one scene, one of the dead is shocked with an EMP machine in a hospital, causing their eyes to explode, but not killing them). My advice: if you are tired of seeing shills that try to find the same pulse that the Blair Witch Project successfully exploited, or if you want to retain an idea that Romero's dead trilogy stands as a firm example of positive movie making, avoid this dud!
Has Romero sunk so low?1/10
What is it with the classic directors; Spielberg, Carpenter, and now Romero, that they seem to produce such abysmal drivel as they get older? Dennis Leary once joked that Elvis should have been killed young so that people only remembered him at his best. If that was true, then Romero should have joined him before this dross was made.

Like reality TV, these stupid home movie within a movie offerings are popular at the moment, probably because they're cheap to make. Blair Witch has a lot to answer for. If Cloverfield left you cold, this movie will give you rigor mortis, with its aimless plot, its set-piece action, and its massively, completely unimaginative, by the numbers encounters.

To say that the basic premise of this film is ridiculous, is a huge understatement - and I'm not talking about the zombies either! Even if you accept that the film is set in a world where zombies can exist, I simply refuse to accept that anyone would tolerate the lead character constantly filming instead of helping his friends to survive. In the real world, I think it would be a dead cert that one of his friends would either have fed him to a zombie, or at very least, smashed the hell out of his camera to re-engage him with the real world.

This is script writing at its laziest and least convincing.
Romero embraces the Youtube age……and its' short attention span6/10
Diary Of The Dead is a film in which George A. Romero tackles the digital age, and the information barrage that it brings us. Rolling news, Youtube, Podcasts, Myspace are the media of choice for an era where information is global, instant and 24/7. It is in this climate that the 'Dead' franchise gets the Blair Witch Project. We follow a group of young film students who find themselves having to band together after the dead start returning to life. Seeing the magnitude of the event a few of the troupe take it upon themselves to record a document of their plight for survival. It is this 'life through a lens' that gives us Diary Of The Dead.

To expand on the cataclysmic events Romero uses footage from news channels, video blogs and web cams. The accessibility of the Internet mirrors the wildfire decline of humanity as the zombies take over and society collapses. However if there is one thing that defines this Internet era, it is short attention spans.

Sadly this pandering to the Youtube generation is what seems to sum up 'Diary'. The strength behind the previous 'Dead' movies was that the survivors were stationary and holed up (whether it be in a shopping mall or bunker). As such it was the banality of their existence that became even more unnerving than the zombie threat. In 'Diary' the action is kinetic and the editing very fast-paced, as if Romero is keen to hold the short attention span of a young audience that now lives off 1 minute video clips, and skim-read 'Wikipedia' articles. As such the characters never stay in the same place for more than 5 minutes, as the scene hopping goes into overdrive.

I'm sad to say that 'Diary' smacks of compromise. Romero inserts his typical biting social commentary, but it's often blunted by a desire to make the film palatable enough to younger generations and audiences. Trying to make reflective points about humanity when they're delivered by identikit good-looking young actors (who look more suited to being in 'The O.C') feels akin to having 'Hamlet' read out by Lindsay Lohan.

Also Romero's hand seems forced to add the checklist of 'teen' horror cliches.

'Gross Out' deaths- Check

Ditzy Blonde Girl- Check

Older 'world weary' authority figure- Check (The professor)

Zombie jumping out from side of frame- Check

Big scary mansion finale- Check

Despite its' flaws, 'Diary Of The Dead' is worth seeing simply for the glimmerings of Romero's post 9/11 views. Ironically, it is modern culture that not only embraces 'Diary' but also forces Romero to dumb down. 'Diary' is a flawed, experimental film from Romero, however a flawed Romero is far more challenging and interesting than 99% of the competition. An honorable 'miss' of a film that sees the master of zombie movies bound by the requirements of commercial success.
oh dear6/10
I have always admired the films of Romero and there can be no doubt that he is the godfather of zombie films. Alas, i think he should have finished his zombie career with day of the dead. Land of the dead certainly wasn't a bad film and this is far from the worst i've ever seen but the step down is none the less noticeable. The modern cinematic world owes a lot to Romero but it's clear that the modern cinematic world has moved on from him.

Lets start with the main problems(and ignore the million little ones):-

1. An idiot who keeps filming even when he or his friends are in danger (at no point does the brilliant idea of putting the camera down occur to him)

2. A narrator that appears to have edited the film so that it looks polished and yet who chooses to leave in the moments when the camera goes off or turns black

3. A narrator (and editor) who thinks incidental music should be added for tension (imagine those who filmed 9/11 doing the same and you will arrive at the same tasteless nature of this)

4. A narrator (and editor) who wishes for us to witness her rotting corpse family attack her (journalists may pretend to put journalistic integrity before emotional involvement but this is perverse)

5. An allegory for the war in Iraq (we aren't being given the full information etc) that needs to be endlessly repeated.

6. The notion that they needed to film everything to show the world the truth (like walking zombies wouldn't do it for most people)

7. Romero getting the opportunity to remind everyone that he thinks zombies should be slow (and reminding us again and again)

This isn't an absolutely awful film by any stretch but in relation to the history and reputation of Romero, it is alas.....somewhat of an embarrassment
Lights, camera and . . . . . . can we have some action?6/10
George A. Romero, king of the zombie movie, returns with a new . . . . . zombie movie. Well "if it ain't broke" and all that. The plot concerns a group of students who are making a horror movie one moment, supervised by a heavy-drinking professor, and then finding themselves trying to survive the next as everyone realises that, yep, those pesky corpses are getting up for a wander once again. The twist this time around is that Romero has decided to join the current crop of filmmakers who have gone down the DV, hand-held, cinema verite path but how does his outing compare to theirs? Pretty unfavourably, I'm sad to say. Sharing one of the major negative points that turned me off Cloverfield (the making you want to shout "just stop filming and help save your own damn ass" sensation) and none of the positives from, for example, {Rec} or Noroi or even The Blair Witch Project means that it makes for a difficult movie to like, although I suspect it will end up becoming just as divisive as all of those.

Unfortunately, there's also a problem with the intelligent, thought-provoking side of things. Romero's zombie movies have always contained some underlying social commentary but here it actually gets in the way of the more entertaining moments and proves to be too much of a distraction thanks to the unusual heavy-handedness from Romero and too much repetition.

The points made ARE interesting (about media by the masses for the masses, how images can be edited to show the version of events that you prefer, etc) but they simply do not gel in the zombie uprising storyline.

Luckily, the effects on display are handled much better and, although not all of them are 100% on target, most of them are well-realised and seamlessly done so that they never remind you that you are watching fake "real" footage.

The acting is okay, the shuffling zombies are up to standard and there are definitely moments here that will please fans (not least the comments on horror movies in general and a reminder of why zombies don't run) but I must say, at great risk of personal insult and/or injury, that on a basic entertainment level I even preferred the much-maligned Day Of The Dead remake to this movie for it's zombie carnage and fun.

Having said that, I did love every zombie moment featured in "Diary", it's just a shame that they weren't framed by a much better movie.

See this if you like: Land Of The Dead, The Last Broadcast, George A. Romero.