The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Instagram

Romero’s ‘Diary’ proves preachy

George A. Romero is a genius. The “Night of the Living Dead” director redefined the horror genre, making it possible for a movie to be scary, funny, smart and angry all at the same time. However, Romero’s recent entry into his “Dead” series, “Diary of the Dead,” is a misstep and a far cry from the brilliance of his past.

“Diary” is made in the “Blair Witch”-“Cloverfield” style of a group of people filming the plot themselves as it progresses. In this case, the group is a gaggle of Pitt film students out in the woods making a horror movie of their own. Their director is Jason (Joshua Close), a young man who becomes obsessed with filming everything once the dead start returning to life. His girlfriend, Deb (Michelle Morgan), and assorted friends make their way home while trying to stay alive and capturing everything on camera.

As usual, Romero is trying to make a statement with his film. This time around, he’s obviously fed up with the likes of YouTube and our culture’s current interest in recording everything we see. The point is made over and over again that our society has become too voyeuristic and slavish to technology.

It’s a good point to make, but having the characters explain those points and spell them out for us every 15 minutes is condescending. The movie feels more like a lecture than a scary movie. The joy of “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” is that they’re enjoyable on their own, but the subtle lessons they teach about racism and materialism, respectively, is what makes them so dense and rich.

The acting in this film is largely overdone, with the exception of a bad-ass Amish farmer who pretty much makes the entire film with his brief scene. All of the students are suspiciously attractive and unfortunately idiotic. The actors deliver each line with a heavy-handed hollowness, as if they don’t really like preaching to the audience, but Romero’s making them do it.

Possibly the worst player is the students’ professor (Scott Wentworth), who is the walking stereotype of a college professor: British accent, tweed blazer, flask and all. His melodramatic candor throughout the film can be a nice departure from the moronic statements of the students, but it’s not enough to make you care for the character or what happens to him.

The camera work in the film is as shoddy as you would expect, given that the film operates under the premise of being filmed by students. But the shaky-cam charm only goes so far, and “Diary” is likely to make you nauseous at least once before the credits roll.

While a zombie movie obviously has more artistic merit than torture-porn horror flicks like “Hostel” and “Saw,” “Diary of the Dead” just isn’t a good example of a well-made horror film. The ham-fisted lesson that’s shoved down our throats is irritating by the film’s end (We get it. We’re the real monsters. Very clever.) and the acting and camera work are downright awful. Romero’s genius still stands and we should all be glad that he’s returning to independent film, but “Diary of the Dead” is not his best work by a long shot.

More to Discover