Diary of the dead: George A Romero's dead wrong about web zombies

Let me make something clear straight away. George A Romero is a peerless filmmaker. He is the Orson Welles of horror movies. Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, Day Of The Dead and Land Of The Dead are all masterful satires. Not only does he scare you half to death, but in each film Romero homes in like a sniper on society's ills at the time of making. Night Of The Living Dead presented us with a black hero at a time when the civil rights movement was shaking 60's America. Dawn Of The Dead cast a mirror on all of the mindless consumer zombies of the 70's (who remain undead to this day). Day Of The Dead foretold the age of genetic engineering. Finally, Land Of The Dead shows us as a fortresss society in the wondeful 00's, hiding from terrorist zombies and deluding ourselves that this is living.

So what of Diary Of The Dead in 2008? What does Romero think of us right now? Well, once again sees us for what we are. He goes after exactly the right theme, the 24 hour online society that demands to be entertained every second of the day and then blogs about it to its friends. The only problem is that for the first time in his zombie career, the message overwhelms the storytelling.

Diary Of The Dead introduces us to a gang of students, who decide to document the zombie holocaust by filming everything and uploading it online. They discover that the camera blunts the experience, it shields them from the horror they're filming. Unfortunately, Romero allows this to happen to his audience as well. Maybe this was his intention, to show us that we've all become so desensitised to armageddon that we wouldn't feel it even if it happened right in front of us, but it doesn't make for a fantastic film. An annoying voice over hits us over the head with the film's theme again and again. The remarkable Cloverfield demonstrates that simply allowing the user-generated video to tell it's own tale works so much better. You can't help feeling that Romero would have been better off following the same principle.

I feel like a heritic for saying this, but Diary Of The Dead also feels like the time your dad tried to explain the internet to someone. Everyone knows that an event like this would be documented entirely on YouTube, but the site never really makes an appearance in the movie. Any video shot by the students on their mobile phones is shown in patronising minature. At one point, the hero of the story marvels that his zombie clips have received "70,000" hits on MySpace. In an age when the release of a GTA4 trailer melted the internet, the zombie appocalypse would draw millions of plays from our bored every second of the day society. For the first time in his incredible career, Romero shows his age.

Don't get me wrong, Diary Of The Dead isn't a bad film. Compared to the worthless Saw and Hostel franchises, this is fantastic. Unfortunately, Romero can only be compared to Romero. And the standard is just so high...


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