Diary of the Dead is the Fifth zombie film by George Romero the man accredited with introducing North America to the Zombie sub genre in. It started in 1968 with Night of the living Dead and most movies thereafter have keep in line with his “undead universe” however with Diary of the Dead Romero done a reboot by returning to the start of the zombie outbreak. Diary of the Dead was independently produced, it was distributed theatrically by Dimension Films and was released in cinemas on February 15, 2008 and on DVD by The Weinstein Company and Genius Entertainment on May 20, 2008.
Diary is a hundred percent independent, made with my partner, Peter Grunwald, and our new friends at Artfire. I haven’t had this much freedom since 1968 George Romero Myspace
Even though it is a reboot and has little to do with Romero’s previous Zombie movie Land of the dead it still follows the standard Romero Zombie rules.
Romero rule #1 - Zombies are shamblers
Romero rule #2 - Your bit by a zombie you become a zombie
Romero rule #3 – You die (suicide, gunshot, natural causes) you become a zombie
Romero rule #4 – Zombies have little to no intelligence with some exceptions (Bub or Big Daddy)
George Romero’s style of film making goes beyond the simple undead infected killing the inept fear filled living. There is always a level of satire, humor and a brutal social critique. In the past he’s tackled topics like racism, mass consumerism, class division, military fascism, and social apathy. Diary of the Dead is no exception. Essentially it is a film within a film, it captures the audience placing them up close to the beginnings of a zombie apocalypse. Shots using various camera like the Panasonic HDX 900, HBX 200, surveillance footage, cell phone clips and clips taken from the media and internet sources. It all feels like Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield (Note: Diary of the Dead was made before Cloverfield). Unlike Cloverfield the majority of the people filming the events are film students who have a knowledge of film making the watching experience less nauseating.
The movie begins with news reporters filming a story about the death of an immigrant couple and their child. As they are wheeled out of their apartment building on a gurney, the mother and the child suddenly wake up and attack the emergency services crew on site. Both are shot in the head, but not before biting quite a few of the people. You witness the mother rip a chunk of the reporters face off with the camera man screaming “my god this can’t be happening….. this can’t be happening!!”.
The narrator is Deb played by Michelle Morgan. She is the girlfriend of Jason Creed the student filmmaker played by Josh Close. She explains the filmed that her boyfriend started called “The Death of Death” and comments on how the news isn’t reporting the whole truth. The film cuts to a group of University of Pittsburgh film students making a mummy horror film. The students begin hearing news on the radio about the dead rising. Once the events of the dead rising start to unfold the student decide to head to their parents homes in hopes of seeking safety and answers. The students hop into their friends motor home and begin their trek across Pennsylvania.
As more undead horror stories begin to surface on the Internet, TV, and their cell phones Creed decides this event is too huge to not document. The other students are reluctant to participate but Creed insists that he must film everything. Each of the group members introduce themselves, starting with Mary Dexter (Tatiana Maslany), the driver, and moving to Debra, and Tony, then to Elliot, Gordo Thorson (Chris Violetti), his girlfriend Tracy Thurman (Amy Lalonde), and finally their drunk professor, Andrew Maxwell (Scott Wentworth).
The film takes you through all kinds of zombie infected scenarios as the student desperately attempt to reach their destination. They try a hospital when one of them get hurt, Their stranded at a Amish farm when the motor home breaks down, national guardsmen’s meet up with them and rob them blind and they seek refuge with a group of militants armed to the teeth. Deb does reach her parents home but soon finds out the horrors of the undead have not spared her parents and brother. They end their trek in a mansion where they make their final stand. It ends with Debra explaining a story about rednecks mutilating zombies, and questions whether the human race is really worth saving.
The film explores the use of modern technology and how the flow of information about the zombie apocalypse moves through modern communication channels. While traditional source of information like TV and radio news are filled with inaccuracies the true news is coming from the internet being reported by people on the front lines. The students frequently comment on the disparity between what people are reporting on the internet and what the government and official news networks are reporting. At one point Creed uploads the footage they have compiled onto the internet and they get 72000 hits within eight minutes.
Romero posses this question if you can’t trust the mainstream professional media, can you trust regular people to give you a unbiased account of the news. He flirts with the idea of a generation having an obsession with watching tragedy. This is very evident with Creeds obsession to film his friends even while being attacked by zombies. Romero stabs at how the media elites distort the truth and how the new age of information can bring the truth back in the hands of the people.
I think the film clearly shows you that technology has changed the landscape of how information and news is delivered to the masses. No more is it dished out by an select few but instead starts from the bottom and is selectively absorbed into the masses. with a micro budget and no major studio backup Romero has been able to produce a fresh zombie flick. I absolutely loved this film and consider it an outstanding addition to the Zombie genre. I highly recommend you buy this movie if you in any way shape or form enjoy horror or zombies, for more information visit the Official Diary of the Dead website or check out the myspace page for trailers and commentator from Romero himself.
I wanted to add some quotes from the film, I’ve always found George Romero’s dialog to be well placed and at times humorus.
“Fucking mummy’s get all the girls” 9:46 Elliot
“Stealing shit… but whats a guy with a video camera doing in the womens dorm… SECURITY!” 11:00 Random biker looting the dorms
Shawn Roberts as Tony Ravello
Joshua Close as Jason Creed
Michelle Morgan as Debra Moynihan
Joe Dinicol as Eliot Stone
Scott Wentworth as Andrew Maxwell
Philip Riccio as Ridley Wilmott
George Buza as Biker
Amy Lalonde as Tracy Truman
Tatiana Maslany as Mary Dexter
R .D. Reid as Amish Farmer
Alan Van Sprang as Colonel
Quentin Tarantino, Wes Craven, M. Night Shyamalan, Guillermo del Toro, Simon Pegg, Josh S. Clair, and Stephen King lend their voices as newscasters on the radio.
Directed – George A. Romero
Produced – George A. Romero, Peter Grunwald, Sam Englebardt , Artur Spigel, Dan Fireman. John Harrison, Ara Katz
Written – George A. Romero
Music - Norman Orenstein
Cinematography Adam Swica
Editing Michael Doherty
Studio Artfire Films
Release date September 8, 2007
Running time 95 minutes
Country United States
Budget $2 million
Gross revenue $5,188,775