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  Diary of the Dead Just For The Record
Year: 2007
Director: George A. Romero
Stars: Michelle Morgan, Joshua Close, Shawn Roberts, Amy Ciupak Lalonde, Joe Dinicol, Scott Wentworth, Philip Riccio, Chris Violette, Tatiana Maslany, Todd Schroeder, Daniel Kash, Laura DeCarteret, Martin Roach, Megan Park, George Buza, R.D. Reid
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: It has been a few days since the disaster occured and there is no sign of it letting up yet. The first many knew about it was when they saw a news report on the television where a camera crew planning to film an accident that bodies were being brought out of suddenly became part of the story as it turned out the victims were not dead. Or rather they were, but they would not stay down and began attacking people. This was recorded by student filmmaker Jason Creed (Joshua Close) to incorporate into his new film: a document of the end of the world.

Apprarently George A. Romero yearned for the old days of low budget filmmaking when he was making his fair-budgeted zombie movie Land of the Dead, so with surprising speed he threw himself into the creation of a smaller project that he felt better reflected his sensibilities. That project was Diary of the Dead, and became one of the growing number of films to be influenced by The Blair Witch Project, which made a virtue of its amateurish look and became a pop culture phenomenon that most of its imitators conspicuously failed to be, Romero's film included.

The trouble was that Diary had also drawn its style from reality television, and we had all seen so much of that that we knew what the real thing looked like, which was not the obviously staged drama that was presented here. You never think, as some who saw Blair Witch were fooled into thinking, that you are watching true events, quite apart from the fact that in real life there are no flesh-eating zombies. This is supposed to be a construction of the YouTube generation who upload their videos for the benefit of the world, so when Jason is fashioning his documentary that is the medium we are meant to have in mind.

However, Romero's usually acute social commentary has let him down this time, as he does little but state the obvious as well as opt for the paranoid view of the conspiracy nut about the news outlets that he believes are not telling the public the truth. While there is undoubtedly a political slant to much of the news, you cannot imagine they would hold back from going into close examination of an actual zombie epidemic, after all it would be difficult to keep the facts out of the headlines, but that's what we're sold here, that the big corporations would be supplanted by shaky video footage on the internet.

While Romero does have a point about the reliance of T.V. news on contributions from the public, it's not as if most people exclusively go to YouTube for all their information on current events, as they tend to build up their picture of the big stories from a number of sources. And judging by the characters here, you wouldn't want to trust their posturing no matter how many of them were chomped by zombies - in disappointingly CGI-rendered effects to boot. It's not a good sign when you don't especially care whether Jason and his friends film any more, as you're simply left unconvinced and unengaged. Dare I say that Diary of the Dead only feels authentic in that it does indeed look like a pretentious student film, except it has been made by an experienced director who his fans expected more of. Though the Amish guy was great, I'll give him that. Music by Norman Orenstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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George A. Romero  (1940 - )

American writer/director and one of the most influential figures in modern horror cinema, whose ability to write strong scripts and characters match his penchant for gory chills. The Pittsburgh native began his career directing adverts before making Night of the Living Dead in 1968. This bleak, scary classic ushered in a new era of horror film-making, but Romero struggled initially to follow it up - There's Always Vanilla is a little-seen romantic drama, and Jack's Wife was butchered by its distributor. The Crazies was a flop but still an exciting slice of sci-fi horror, and while the dark vampire drama Martin again made little money but got Romero some of the best reviews of his career and remains the director's personal favourite.

In 1978 Romero returned to what he knew best, and Dawn of the Dead quickly became a massive international hit. Dawn's success allowed Romero to make the more personal Knightriders, and he teamed up with Stephen King to direct the horror anthology Creepshow. The intense, underrated Day of the Dead, spooky Monkey Shines and half of the Poe-adaptation Two Evil Eyes followed. The Dark Half, based on Stephen King's novel, was Romero's last film for nine years, and he returned in 2000 with the strange Bruiser. A fourth Dead film, Land of the Dead, was released in 2005, and lower budgeted fifth and sixth instalments rounded off the decade.

 
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