Sunday, April 12, 2009

Movie Review - Zombie Diaries (2008)

I love some of the things that are happening in Britain as far as horror movies are concerned. The independent market is doing some great stuff and some of the independent directors and writers are finally being recognized and given big budgets to do some great, great horror. I trace the resurgance of British Horror back to Neil Marshall's deliciously violent and genre bending Dog Soldiers. Marshall has since gone on to direct one of my all time favorite movies, The Descent.

Even beyond this, Danny Boyle singlehandedly resurrected the zombie genre with his dark and oh-so-English-zombie-movie-that-didn't really-have-real zombies-in-it, 28 Days Later. Well directed horror films like this have returned England to the horror map in a way we haven't seen since the glory days of Hammer Films.

It is against this backdrop of heightened expectations that I approached Zombie Diaries. And I'd read some good early buzz about an English Diary of the Dead that out-zombied the master himself -- George A. Romero.

High praise indeed, and I approached the film open-mindedly based on some of the other great stuff I'd seen coming out of Britain.

I can now say, unreservedly, that the fuckers who said this movie was good were liars.

The movie started out promisingly enough. It tells the story of a group of news reporters covering a story in Northern England. Filmed in the first person, cinema verite style so popular nowadays (ala Blair Witch, or Cloverfield, or Diary of the Dead); there is good exposition about rumors of quarantines and a sickness in continental Europe and England. The crew, a likeable enough group, arrive at a farm to find an empty farmhouse. They break in and there is an incredible scene of them searching the house and finding the now zombiefied occupants in an upstairs room. Fleeing, they run into the woods and it's apparent that the zombie apocalypse is on!

It started out well enough and I was enjoying it. Then, it switched to another story several months into the zompocalypse, where we follow a ridiculously stupid trio of scavengers as they try to find food and supplies in an empty village. The actors in this vignette are made especially annoying because one of them is supposed to be an American. The actor playing the American says things like "boot" and "lorry" with his poorly concealed English accent, makes snide, stupid comments about how Brits don't have guns, and then shows he is completely incapable of shooting or handling a gun. This, by the way, is a rampant behavior throughout. The actors handle guns like people who have - understandably - never handled guns. But this is not the place to discuss the idiocy of English reactionary anti-gun lawmaking... although it would help make the movie more believable.

The scene shifts several more times and we eventually settle on a group trying to survive on a farm. The stories eventually converge and, in a heavyhanded way... the drector and writer show that - amidst the horror of a zombie outbreak - humans are still more horrifying and monstrous then the reanimated undead.

I find the premise and resolution to this movie downright insulting.

The makers of the film, in their attempt to make the film meaningful and cautionary about the human condition, succeed in only implying that they're smarter than the audience. Condescension and smugness are - as I said before - insulting.

The actors weren't all terrible, but they weren't professionals, either. In fact, I couldn't shake the feeling that this was a college film project; a project so bad that the only way this film could have possibly gotten a distribution deal was because the director managed to give a blowjob to someone in the business. That's right, someone had to become a whore to get this film out there. It's the only explanation.

What else was bad? Oh, plenty...

The camera work was terrible. It was nausea inducing, and I've never - ever - gotten that motion sickness feeling when watching any other movie of this type. What was worse, and almost criminal, was that the cameras were handled by the actors -- and nobody had the wits or foresight about themselves to say, "linger on the approaching zombie and NOT the ground, the tree, the sky, and your big, stupid feet in rapid fucking succession!"

Also, an hour and a half of a camera bouncing around jarringly whilst hearing heavy breathing as an out of shape actor runs about aimlessly does not a good movie viewing experience make. Even if you do punctuate the out of breath running with the occasional clipped, British-accented, "Oh dear."

And that cool cover art (see it at the top of the review)? Yeah... typical straight to DVD shenanigans. I hate that. When you spend an assload of money - more than you did to actually make the movie itself - to design a really, really cool DVD cover in order to TRICK people into buying or renting your crappy movie - you are obviously a douchebag. So, whoever's responsible for that? Bravo... you're a douchebag.

The worst part is I bought into the hype and wasted part of a gift card to buy this on DVD. I spent $20 to own what could best be described as a movie that was filmed by simply handing some college kids a camera and saying, "Here. Have fun!"

So let me sum up and reiterate... horrible acting, terrible dialogue, stupid story. The only reason this film didn't get a Zero out of 5 Chomped Brains was because of the honestly good beginning and the fact that it had SOME zombies in it. Nothing else redeemed it, that's for sure!

Aaarrrgghhh! This movie was so stupid it made me want to kick small children and puppies out of sheer spite!!!!

Doctor Zombie's Rating: 1 out of 5 Chomped Brains

4 comments:

Phronk said...

Damn. I heard this was good too and it's on my Netflix list; sucks to hear that it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Anonymous said...

This review is dead-on. The movie is worthless boring pathetic rubbish. Avoid at all costs.

Anonymous said...

Totally Disagree. This film was really good and FAR better than Diary of the Dead.

Brent the critic said...

I bought this movie for $9 at Walmart. I should be payed $9 just to have watched this waste of time. From the beginning of this millennium has been an onslaught of terrible, below even the earliest B-movie attempts at zombie greatness. The worst being that these horrible movies are plaguing our local movie rental facilities, such as blockbuster. My question is how can a movie of such low standards be represented and sold next to movies of any worth. My review of this movie is two severed thumbs down.