Monday, March 11, 2013

Found Dead: Diary of the Dead

Was there some demand for this?  Let's take a Franchise that inexplicably returned after a quarter century and give it a Found Footage Sequel.  Seriously, that was the best idea?!?  So yeah, this is Survival of the Dead.  If you haven't read my works before, let me state that I don't like Found Footage movies as a whole. That's not to say that there aren't some decent to good ones.  Chronicle has some good moments- before the overkill Ending- and I actually love Trollhunter.  That takes an absolutely crazy idea and sticks you right in the middle of it- a good use of the sub-Genre.  This is the FIFTH of Romero's Zombie films, so why go this route now?  On top of that, it's not really a Sequel.  Instead, Romero himself referred to Diary as 'a rejigging of the Mythos.'  Naturally, let's do a pseudo-Remake now!  Kudos for trying something new, George, but maybe you should do things because they're good and not just because they're new.  There are ways that this could have worked- he just didn't do any of them.  If anything, the 'twists' to the sub-Genre that they added seems to kill the drama, rather than enhance it.  This is a sad example of someone trying to be hip, but not exactly realizing that being 'hip' is not following the lame trends of the day.  To see how it all went horribly awry (setting the bar low for Survival of the Dead), read on...
Naturally, this Found Footage Film begins with people watching- wait for it- someone else's footage.  All this serves is to set up the fact that Zombies exist.

Thanks- got it.
Our heroes are a bunch of 'College Students' (right!) who stop filming a Mummy film- insert Romero commentary about Infected here- to drive around in an RV aimlessly while watching the News and bitching.  Joy.
 Remember all those fun 'let's play with the video effects' bits from Cloverfield and Monster?  Well, they are here too.  Joy.
About halfway through the film, our Narrator- since this film was 'Edited in Post and manages to SPOIL who lives and dies- starts talking about our media-obsessed culture.  How bad is your storytelling when you feel the need to LITERALLY TELL US YOUR MESSAGE?!?!?
Diary is kind enough to rip off the 'Alien shows up at a Kid's Party' bit from Signs here.  It's a Zombie Clown instead, but otherwise the same.

It is even more pointless though, as it sets up a guy who we already saw as a Zombie (and was already dead).
Sadly, the only great character- a Deaf Amish Farmer- meets a grisly end far too early.  He goes out like bad motherf#$%er though, stopping his transformation and killing the Zombie in the process.  Good man.

Extra sad fact: Romero does NOTHING with having an Amish guy in his 'We're obsessed with technology' tale.  Lame!
Yes, I want to watch people WATCH stuff, especially when it's stuff we JUST SAW THEM FILM minutes ago.  Stop being like Jaws in Japan, please.
After a lot of non-action and stupid action, our remaining heroes lock themselves in a panic room.  Symbolism?
The film wouldn't be complete without one last bit of pretentious narration.  Thanks, Romero...I mean, the Narrator.  The End.
Seriously, why did it come to this?  I like Romero, even if I don't love his works as much as many others do. Dawn of the Dead is a great movie.  While I haven't seen Day in quite a while, I think that it's good too.  I even like Land for a lot of its aspects, even if it does steal a major aspect from the 2004 Dawn Remake.  The problems here, however, are numerous.  The film is about as subtle as a punch in the face.  Even if you didn't get the message from the over-done story scenes, the characters outright say things like 'Put down the camera and help me.'  The best (read: worst) bit is where the guy who played the Mummy in the fake film- still in the outfit days later- turns and chases the heroine- still in her costume days later- through Woods just like in the movie.  She literally says 'This is just like your goddamn movie!' to boot.  Yes, we got it!  The film constantly assaults the viewer with plot explanation while the plot is easier to read than First Grade Reading for Dummies.  On top of that, the ways he 'plays' with the Found Footage formula are more irritating than clever.  Constant mixing in of other feeds/downloads just muddies the whole thing.  The 'Director' was downloading a bunch of other Videos apparently.  The Narrator/Editor then put them in, including Music and Narration for 'dramatic effect.'  She must have worked at the Chicago Police Department.  If I wanted to be preached to, I'd just go to Church.  I wanted to watch a good Horror film, but got this instead.  Take us away, Romero's not-so-subtle commentary on the Infected...
Up next, the third and final part of Romero's second Dead Trilogy.  Let's end things with something completely superfluous and silly!  Stay tuned...

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