Diary of the Dead, George A. Romero's zombie movie, is interesting and experimental, if not necessarily successful. While the story is still solid, most of the new techniques, such as the hand-held perspective not only fall flat but distract from the story. The characters themselves are shallow compared to other Romero characters, with the main character being the camera, which seems only to serve as an impediment for the story, because in order for it to progress, you always have to know who is behind the camera. While in most Romero films there are one or more characters who represent everything bad the human race can become, instead, that character is replaced with a camera, just recording everything and not doing anything to help. While it seems that Romero is satirizing his own profession, his delivery of the social commentary is the bluntest yet, with the characters constantly yelling at the camera man whose unrealistic devotion to the camera makes it difficult to identify with him him. However the worst, bluntest delivery comes from the narration by the camera man's girlfriend Deb. Not only does her narration at the beginning of the film give away the fate of her boyfriend, but it attempts to hit you on the head with a club that says "social satire." All of Romero's underlying themes in his other Zombies like "are we worth saving" and "look what we become during a crisis" rather than delivered through the actions of the characters are narrated into the picture before the viewer is given any time to think about what has happened. The film ends abruptly and confusingly, with a group of main characters locking themselves into a room. When one thinks about Romero's other endings, the plot just seems like a random string of events involving zombies that eventually must come to an end. Because of the "student film" perspective, the plotting does not seem deliberate, however, the execution of the handheld perspective is not good enough to make it seem as though the events are random, with plot-devices crammed in wherever there is an excuse for them. As a Romero movie and as a well-plotted movie, Diary falls flat, however, it does manage to be entertaining. There are good action sequences, and although the handheld perspective does little to further the story line it occasionally provides an interesting device for suspense. Some of the secondary characters are interesting, such as the two groups of national guard refugees, even if their screen time is far too short. In addition, Greg Nicotero has improved on his zombie make up craft since Land of the Dead, even though he has fewer opportunities to use it. Overall, however, Diary's shallow characters, blunt delivery and abrupt ending drag down an otherwise passable horror film.
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