New on DVD: Diary of the Dead

Diary of the DeadGeorge Romero began what was supposed to be a trilogy in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead; it became a tetralogy with the big budget Land of the Dead in 2005. And now, Romero has brought the zombie series full circle by returning to the beginning in Diary of the Dead.

A group of film students are shooting a horror movie in the woods when “the shit hits the fan.” News stations begin reporting incidents of the dead rising and attacking the living. Everyone’s first instinct is to deny the reports, calling it a hoax, but they soon witness the horror that has become their reality. As in all Romero flicks, the government and military prove unreliable very quickly and the characters must engage in a lone struggle to survive and get home. Jason (Joshua Close) swiftly turns the focus of his camera towards documenting the apocalyptic events and it is through his lens the audience witnesses the story.

All Romero’s zombie films have been rife with political and social commentary. As the 21st century is the information age, most of the characters’ knowledge is gained and shared via the Internet.

The DVD features commentary by Romero, director of photography Adam Swica and editor Michael Doherty; while Romero does provide some insight into the film’s creation, the trio is somewhat obsessed with pointing out invisible edits that don’t necessarily fit the documentary-style narrative. The unedited recordings of three of the famous voices in the film (Guillermo del Toro, Sam Pegg and Stephen King) are amusing but not as much as the five Myspace zombie film contest winners’ short films.

In addition, the confessionals bring a little more life to each character but is less effective after the film’s conclusion – a version with some of them included in the feature would have been interesting.

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