Thu, 28 Feb 2008
In Houston last week I saw the new George Romero zombie flick, Diary of the Dead. I was pretty disappointed. Romero’s films have never been very well-acted, and the dialogue has never been that great, but usually the movies get by on ideas and images. The new one is a mock-documentary – it’s about a bunch of film students recording events as the zombie apocalypse sweeps across Pennsylvania – so the stiff acting and unnatural dialogue really stand out. Plus – you’ll have to excuse me, because I’m about to totally give away the ending. Romero is attempting to satirise our whole culture of media-addicted video exhibitionism, right? Most of the movie is filmed from the POV of the main character, the film student who is holding the camera, and who continues (implausibly) to film even as he and his friends are fighting for their lives, even as his friends beg him to please put down that damn camera and help us kill zombies. Now, the logical (and funny) ending would be for the film student to be bitten by a zombie, die, return from the dead, and continue filming. A zombie with a videocamera, get it? Then it really would have been a “Diary of the Dead”. Instead – so lame! – he gets bitten by a zombie and shoots himself in the head, and that’s the end.
I mean, I’m not just saying my ending is better. I’m saying my ending is the only conceivable way this movie could have been salvaged. About halfway through, I said to myself, “Ah, I see where Romero is going with this. Pretty clever.” And from that point on I was prepared to forgive the movie’s many flaws. But the flaw-redeeming ending never arrived. So all we’re left with is a mediocre zombie movie with a totally underwhelming ending.