A group of film students from the University of Pitt are shooting a horror movie out in the woods. As they pause for an argument in shooting one of them happens to turn on the news in the background. Much to their shock the airwaves are swamped with reports of the dead coming back to life! Stuck together at the onset of the zombie apocalypse, the students band together as they attempt to journey across Pennsylvania to get home to their parents and loved ones.
Not a perfect movie by any means, â€œDiary of the Deadâ€ still manages to be a worthy entry into the Romero zombie canon adding a few jumps of its own here and there. My biggest issue with this movie was getting into the frame of mind that this all took place on the same day as the original â€œNight of the Living Deadâ€. With the original classic being shoved down us horror fanâ€™s throats so many times, itâ€™s hard to shrug off such an obvious mishandling of the time line. â€œNightâ€ was in black and white, featured old architecture, cars, etc. etc. (To be honest, I canâ€™t remember if a date was ever given in the original) In â€œDiaryâ€, this is all thrown to the way side as they begin speaking of the HD cameras, the internet, and the laptops they are using to shoot their film. A relatively minor issue granted, but a glaring one that made it hard to settle into the groove of the film at the on set. Once it hits itâ€™s stride however, â€œDiaryâ€ becomes an interesting little social commentary with dead guys in it.
Romero manages to retain his social awareness throughout even if he does convolute the matter a bit in its delivery. This time around weâ€™re taking a stab at the internet age and sensationalist media as we watch lead film student, Jason, and his obsession for recording the outbreak. Itâ€™s shown to us several times and rather heavy handedly that Jason has become come cold and uncaring once he stepped behind the camera. Obsessed one might say with the idea of recording this. Romero shows both sides of the story here; on one hand we are given girlfriend Debbieâ€™s point of view. Debbie sees Jason as a monster, one who fails to see the human plight, fails to fear sadness and fear and is holding out only for fame and the chance at a gruesome shot or two to get peopleâ€™s tongues wagging. This could easily be seen as commentary on mass media these days with their coverage of the war and us as Americanâ€™s tendencies to â€˜rubberneckâ€™ at an sign of trauma or tragedy. On the other hand Romero also shows us Jasonâ€™s point of view in the matter. What Jason sees is the mass media lying to the public, telling them everything will be okay, making it sound not as bad as what it really is. Jason sees his duty as a film maker to show the public the truth, regardless of how gory or terrifying it may be. In the end, this point of view is the winner in Romeroâ€™s overall internal commentary argument. As in the original, these little commentary pieces are the root of what makes â€œDiary of the Deadâ€, much like â€œNight of the Living Deadâ€ dealt with racism and other issues. The zombies are there of course, but they are more of an extra as opposed to a key element. They are there primarily as a stage for this social dressing down of the media.
Acting wise there is nothing to get excited about with â€œDiary of the Deadâ€. Most of the time the actors feel vaguely bored and relatively forced at times. Despite that, they did not really take away from my overall enjoyment of the flick. Zombie effects here were nice from what we got to see; there are a couple good death scenes contained within. Romero ventured outside of his normal comfort range in this production relying far more heavily on CG effects. In the end product, the CGI moments are pretty obvious but blended in fairly well. There is an excellent zombie kill with a bottle acid that made me smile wide and utter a faint â€˜sweet!â€™ under my breath.
â€œDiary of the Deadâ€ felt like a solid entry into Romeroâ€™s franchise although it felt a bit stale. Nowhere near as ground breaking as the original three, it still felt more like a Romero flick that â€œLand of the Deadâ€ did.
Ultimately, I give â€œDiaryâ€â€¦
6 â€˜you better watch what you say about bloggersâ€™ out of 5.
As an additional aside, the DVD comes loaded with extras that Iâ€™m still culling through. Contained within are commentary, several making of features, and a some character dossiers. Also of note, to coincide with the DVD release of â€œDiaryâ€, Dimension has also released a new 40th Anniversary edition of â€œNight of the Living Deadâ€. Included on this is a new transfer and some brand new special features. These include new commentaries from Romero and cast, â€œSpeak to the Deadâ€ a Q&A with Romero, â€œOne for the Fireâ€, a new feature length documentary, as well as many others!