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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Day 259: The Zombie Diaries

The Zombie Diaries
Dear diary, why does this movie suck?

The United Kingdom has had a good run recently with zombie movies. 28 Days Later and Shaun Of The Dead were both huge successes in the zombie genre despite being two completely different movies. They told different stories, but still respected the genre and created fun and entertaining zombie movies. As I've said before, it's much easier making a bad zombie movie than a good one. Just about every horror fan thinks they have a good idea for a zombie movie. While an idea may sound good on paper, the movie's fate lies in good execution. Today, I turn back to the UK for another zombie movie in hopes of lightning striking a third time.

The Zombie Diaries is a 2006 independent horror movie later released through Dimension Extreme films. The movie is shot in the "found footage" style and is not presented the typical (and expected) linear format, so I'll try to do my best in explaining things. The movie is also split up into chapters to make things even more unnecessarily confusing. Set in England, the movie begins with reports of a viral outbreak originating in Asia. Compared to bird flu, initially the Western world ignores the danger until reports of the virus reach London's doorstep. In the first chapter "Outbreak", a documentary film crew goes out to the countryside to interview a farmer dealing with the outbreak. When they reach the farm, they find no one is home and leave. Their car breaks down (of course) and they walk back to the farm and break in. They believe they are alone, but hear loud noises upstairs. They investigate only to find an eviscerated body and a zombie lumbering towards them. They run out into the words and try to plan their next move. The second chapter "The Scavengers" takes place one month after the first chapter and shows a separate group of people raiding a market for food and supplies. We now see the zombies have grow in number, despite being incredibly slow. In the third and final chapter entitled "The Survivors" we meet yet another group who have set up camp in a farm. They spend most of their time fighting zombies and bickering amongst themselves. One in the group, Goke, is particularly difficult to deal with. How are all these stories connected and how does Goke fit in with the first chapter?

Not-fast-enough food

There are good zombie movies, bad zombie movies, and zombie movies so horrendous that they make you want to completely give up on the genre. Look at that first picture at the top. That's the DVD cover to the movie. Looks pretty cool, right? Zombies emerging from a city in ruins and a badass protagonist ready to kick some undead ass. Yeah, the problem with that is there is no such scene in the movie. Not even close. The dupe people into thinking they're in for a fun zombie movie with lots of violence and action. Instead, we are forced to suffer through a pointless and insipid movie with the world's slowest zombies. I prefer slow zombies, but the ones in The Zombie Diaries move at the sound of smell. You could literally moonwalk past them and yet they are somehow able to sneak up and bite people. You would have to have your eyes closed, your nose plugged, and your fingers jammed into your ears while you loudly sing "Come Sail Away" in order to miss them.

As I've said in previous reviews, I'm not really a fan of "found footage", but done right, the style can create real scares. I felt it worked best in Cloverfield, but even Paranormal Activity had it's good moments. Above all else, both movies had a good reason for having a character hold a camera. It also boggles my mind that since this is supposed to be found footage, why the hell is their music during the movie? I mean, the music is really just electronic ambiance and swells, but in the characters' world, where did that sound come from? Did someone find the camera and then add music to it? Other than the original film crew, I have no idea why these other groups have cameras. It's never clear if it's the same camera being used and with all the time lapses and different groups, I have no way of taking a guess. Speaking of jumping around, when the movie switched from the first group to the second, I had no idea who these people were. Actually, I still don't know since their names are only mentioned once or twice and they're not particularly important.


 I know the filmmakers were trying to go for a big surprise ending, but the style just makes everything so confusing that I didn't even care. Normally, movies go from A to B to C. The Zombie Diaries went from A to Hot Dog to Elephant to B to C back to B to Beach Ball to A. They attempted at making social commentary, about man being the real danger, but it's presented in such a random way that it fell completely flat. Now that I think about it, there are barely any good zombie scenes in the movie.There is one or two scenes of gore and violence, but not nearly enough to even give the slightest hint at entertainment. The acting is "passable" with the best parts coming at the beginning when interviews are being conducted on the street asking about the outbreak. They're so good I think that they actually interviewed real people instead of hiring actors.

Horror fans have a certain expectation when it comes to zombie movies and The Zombie Diaries fails in every aspect. The story makes little to no sense and is a confused jumble of random characters that we feel nothing for. The zombies are incredibly slow and yet somehow manage to sneak up on some characters. There is no real reason why the characters continue to film and the addition of musical ambiance makes the style of shooting even more questionable. To my utter disbelief, they actually made a sequel to this movie. The only good thing this movie did was run for less than an hour and a half. At least they didn't bother to drag it out. Whatever you do, avoid The Zombie Diaries at all cost. DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE!


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