Diary of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2007) – Mini Review

“It used to be us against us. Now it’s us against them.”//“He was right, but they were us.”

It’s expectedly entertaining and holds the same satirical social edge as every other Romero-directed ___ Of The Dead movie, but unfortunately this one loses most all of its edge rather quickly and becomes painfully repetitive on the point of digital film manipulation. Whilst it is admittedly a brilliant idea to play on with so many different strands of ideas tethered to it, the connections from cameras to guns (political weaponisation), the camera as the ultimate truth (and the flip side to this – the camera being trusted as truth, but people, specifically the media within the movie, manipulating it to the point of dishonesty) and the supposed ‘need’ to film for the sake of having proof of realism. With a Resident Evil style monotone narration to boot, this is the foundation of an incredible socially conscious horror, but it wasn’t meant to be. This one becomes too stretched out between having to (try to) satisfy the character arcs of everybody involved, the globetrotting location jumping (note that Night, Dawn and Day didn’t have too many characters or locations, and because of this they really blossomed) as well as the edge given through the attack on mainstream media manipulation. 

It is great to see a film question the ethics of digital cinema, but Abel Ferrara has been working on the very same topic for so long already and has exhausted many of the possibilities, and simply taking the ideas of Ferrara (among others, considering that this released in the late 2000s) and applying them to a new sub genre (zombies) doesn’t give those ideas any kind of striking rebirth, even if it could have if Romero chose to frame the manipulation of the Everyman differently. The evolution of the ____ Of The Dead franchise is fascinating, though, going from spiting the authorities, then the Everyman for falling into the pitfalls of commercialism all the way to condemning cinema itself, or at least condemning the way that it is used in the 21st century. 

Some of the character dynamics are also quite tiresome, with some arguing about why the characters refuse to put the camera down, then becoming okay with it before switching back and forth, but maybe that is exactly the point – no one is certain about where exactly the threshold lies between too much and too little anymore, we can only try to estimate when life and cinema become too enmeshed to ever be separated once more. 

A film filled with ideas, that unfortunately over-relies on some of those specific points to a tiring level, and therefore never really becomes as striking as it has the potential to be… but to say that it isn’t a blast would be to lie. It’s great fun and somewhat frequently thrilling with the socially conscious points, but the chances are is that you’ve seen these ideas communicated before, and articulated in much stronger ways.

“This isn’t a movie, Jason! It’s real!”

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