Monday, October 13, 2008

Post Mortem: Diary of the Dead

As much as I am first and foremost a fan of classic horror, I have to admit to being a huge fan of the Zombie genre. And Romero's most recent addition wasn't a disappointment. OK perhaps not his best outing, I admit to liking NOTLD and DOTD better, but this was a noteworthy return for Romero to the genre he re-invented. They typical band of misfits thrown together an a quest for survival. Surely there will be some good gory deaths and characters dying off as they situation becomes more dire, pure grade-A Alberta Beef for a Post Mortem entry right.

Well think again, while the movie was entirely enjoyable in it's own right, I have to admit that there was very little material to base this review on. What no Characters Die? to the contrary a number of significant characters die. But Romero made some interesting choices. Character deaths were essentially zombie maulings and not particularly grotesque ones either. And for the most part their second death at the hands of their peers is not particularly meaningful, nor motivational. Not that this doesn't work for the movie, in fact it works quite well, it truly punctuates a reoccurring theme throughout the movie about us, and by 'us' naturally I mean society as a whole, this being global and not national, losing our humanity and becoming disassociated and distant from reality. Particularly with our modern use and lack of interpersonal relationships due to the modern age of computers. Frankly as far as Romero's political subtexts go, this one really is his best. But it didn't make for great death scenes. Sure there was plenty of gore and zombies to keep us happy, but the character's deaths were rather sanitized, interesting no?

So to choose the one that does the best job in this format, I must go with the death of the focal character,

Jason Creed: from rolling film to final cut.

Manner of Death: You guessed it, attacked by a friend turned zombie (whom he formally criticised for his lousy performance as one of the living dead), bitten and then capped by his girlfriend before he could turn. OK I have to admit up until I typed that last sentence I was about to mark it simply as average, but damn, after reading that, I think I have to rate it a bit higher.

Effect of Death: Although the "heroine" of the film seems more moved by this death than any other, and vows to continue and finish his film (which she presumably does and that is the cut we are told we are watching), it doesn't really motivate the characters into action and certainly provides no conclusion to the film, so in my books (and I feel I am perhaps being a bit generous)...

Appearance/direction: To be honest nothing about this scene really stands out visually. And to be brutally honest, when the rest of the gang catches up with Jay and his attacking zombie the zombie is actually strangling him, (although by the blood apparent on his throat, and that of the zombie at this time we can safely assume he was in fact bitten), and I think I bashed Manchester Morgue pretty hard for not much different (noting however there was no blood present in LDAMM until the following scene). It's the part after the attack and the lead up to his final exit that allows me to rank this a bit higher. That said it too gets no more than average.

Mood: Yeah, you know the part where the zombie gets the sword in the head is great and all, but, if it weren't for the score here the scene really didn't have much mood. Bread and water.

Acting: It was believable and the fact that he was able to utter the line "shoot me" while passing the video camera to his girlfriend as his last and final words without cracking up, gets points in my book. But beyond that I didn't see much that warrants better than average marks.

So there you have it, a solid movie, with acceptable acting, a great director a good story, blood, guts zombies the whole sha-bang. But in the end somehow the most pivotal death clocks in at 15.5/25, C- go figure.

Gary Macabre

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