Diary of the Dead (2007)

Why is the found footage genre popular again? Most movies using that gimmick are awful by default. Not only does it make the cinematography awful, they are always so ridiculously contrived in the way they try to justify keeping their pov camera on at all the plot relevant moments and it makes for very terrible dialogue when it repeatedly comes up. This actually has the decency to pretend the footage is all part of a finished documentary, so it does kinda make sense on some level to be so well cut, but even that is pretty stupid when you realize it’s supposedly edited and released to the Internet at a point where the zombie apocalypse has been going in for awhile and they actually mention in the story that servers are going offline. Sure, they do have the courtesy to make the documentary be this big ‘in memoriam’ type of deal where it’s a product of grief and way to seeking personal closure for the dead of a loved one, but come on. When you actually feature a scene where the characters talk about how they just swiped security camera footage off a unprotected wireless connection to justify those couple of seconds of footage shown earlier that makes the entry to a warehouse look cooler when it’s from a cooler angle, it’s just ridiculous no matter how you paint it

I really wanted to be fair and open minded initially, giving this all the benefit of the doubt in the world because it was directed by George Romero but eventually I had to come terms with the fact that it’s just not that good.. Not complete trash, but it is very uneventful and dull thanks to the way it is shot and how the story is told. The found footage angle honestly ruins a lot of what would otherwise be a relatively okay, low key  roadtrip survival movie in the midst of the dawning zombie outbreak. It’s such a shame too, because if this had been played straight like Romero’s old The Dead trilogy, it would have most likely been pretty decent flick with a bit of work and re-writes. All the zombie stuff is well done, as expected, and the main plot point scenarios are largely decent and well done. With some additional development and real insightful emphasis on the characters, even the mansion portion of the story, which felt like the weakest part of the entire ordeal, would have been kinda compelling.

The cast is very bland, I barely remember any of the characters beyond the cameraman and the girl who early on decides to blow her brains out but kinda botches it, so she doesn’t immediately die. The professor is the only truly entertaining character of the bunch, thanks to being drunk all the time, as well as acting as the most level headed person in the group. He’s adorable in his slightly melancholic, tired British, drunken and washed out college professor persona who has no big personal goals left once they realize what is going in, other than restocking his hip flask. Everyone else feels one note, assuming you even remeber that they exist.

The movie is just a relentless disappointment, there’s no denying it. I really should have known better, nobody has ever said a positive word about this in any context I’ve seen the movie mentioned so why did I have the need to be a contrarian and jump and try to side with the underdog like a naïve white knight? Just another example of my own inherent stupidity, I guess.

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