BluRay/DVD Reviews

DIARY OF THE DEAD

By • Mar 10th, 2008 •

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When it was announced that George A. Romero’s follow up to his LAND OF THE DEAD would be shot with a group of teenagers out in the woods using handheld cameras exclusively, it sounded like the grandfather of the modern zombie film would be treading dangerously close to BLAIR WITCH PROJECT territory.

Jason Creed (Josh Close) is in his last year of film school and he and his crew – his girlfriend Debra (Michelle Morgan), classmates Tony (Shawn Roberts), Tracy (Amy Lalonde), Eliot (Joe Dinicol), Ridley (Philip Riccio), Gordo (Chris Violette) and Mary (Tatiana Maslany) along with their teacher, Maxwell (Scott Wentworth) – are out in the woods shooting a mummy movie. When the news reports come in that the dead are returning to life and eating the flesh of the living, the students decide it’d be in their best interest to get out of the woods and head for safety. Everyone piles into the Winnebago with hopes of making it back home to their families, but they soon realize that the plague has spread much further much faster then they thought. Making it home isn’t going to be easy, if it’s even possible. Adding to the group’s tension is the fact that Jason intends to document EVERYTHING that happens to them along the way to create his ultimate documentary film, “The Death of Death.”

Yes, it owes a nod to BLAIR WITCH, just as BLAIR WITCH owes a nod to CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, but outside of that, DIARY OF THE DEAD is it’s own visionary work. Part road movie, part zombie film and part character study, DIARY succeeds despite a few stumbles. Interesting that this low budget film would work better than the considerably more expensive LAND OF THE DEAD, proving that Romero, for whatever reason, seems to work better on a smaller scale. He is the apotheosis of the Independent Filmmaker, and I guess that is what it probably boils down to. Without major studio interference here he’s crafted his best film in years. With its convincing sense of furtive, grabbed footage, DIARY may not necessarily look like a Romero movie, but it definitely feels like one.

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