Saturday, March 01, 2008

DIARY OF THE DEAD

With Diary of the Dead, George Romero widens the scope on his social commentary rifle to include all of us... himself, even. For we are all voyeurs. From Ultimate Fighting and Animal Planet, to rubbernecking and eavesdropping, and, especially, to feeling the power of being behind a camera, there is a sideways excitement - and security - in observing the complications and intimacies of others. "I should have gone to help out! But, I can't... I'm plugged in.", says the cameraman as he recharges.

While blogging, file sharing, video sites, and online networking have opened up communication, and granted influence to small timers who hang out in their pajamas all day, Romero clearly isn't a fan. "The more news sources we have, the more spin there is, and the further away from the truth we get", says a narrator to the footage we're watching. A student filming the chaos insists he's doing it "for history", yet when a colleague is being pursued by the the dead, he defers aid, and holds back to get a good angle.

So has the zombie franchise king just become a crotchety old man??? (In an early scene, a small time director tells his mummy man to "slow down, you're dead, you don't move fast",... a jab at the 28 Days Later-type track star zombie.) Perhaps, for it's difficult not to read the character of a jaded, aging, film professor as a surrogate Romero. Regardless, Diary feels like the liveliest "Dead" film since Dawn, and its take on the found footage gimmick remedies what The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield had hammered down into a one-trick shtick.

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