Tuesday, 11 September 2007

George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead

Director: George A. Romero
Country: USA

This was the movie that I was looking forward to the most out of all the films in the festival, and it did not disappoint. I don't want to speak prematurely, but it is certainly a strong frontrunner as my favourite film of the festival, and even of all the films released in this calendar year.

The film, which effectively reboots the Dead saga's universe (or, as I like to think of it, creates an alternaverse), begins when the dead start becoming reanimated, hungry for human flesh, much like the events of Romero's original horror classic, Night of the Living Dead, except that it takes place in the modern day. The story follows a group of film school students as they are filming a horror movie. During a break, they hear reports of the dead coming back to life, and dismiss it as a hoax. As they soon realize that the events are reality, they continue their filming in an effort to document the truth of what is transpiring while they struggle to survive.

The film is littered with social commentary, as is common with Romero's films. In fact, it is perhaps his most socially relevant work since his masterpiece Night of the Living Dead. It would not surprise me if I find a handful of new meanings to the movie each time I see it again in the future. The filming style (that is, a mockumentary using multiple cameras of varying quality), makes the movie unique within its genre (with The Blair Witch Project being the only other film of particular note with a similar approach), while at the same time enhances Romero's commentary on pervasive technology and media. Romero's writing and directing does not falter one bit, which, with the help of some excellent acting from a largely unknown cast, drives the point home even better.

Diary is a sublime modern retelling of an old idea. From start to finish, I could find nothing wrong with this movie. I absolutely loved it, and highly recommended it, unless you are particularly offended by blood and gore. Alas, despite it being the second screening of the movie, George A. Romero wasn't available to answer any questions.

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