The premise behind The Zombie Diaries is a simple one. Several groups of people are filming themselves as they try and survive different stages of the zombie outbreak. Each of these groups of people have a camera handy to catch all of their exploits on tape. This film is nothing like Blair Witch Project, Man Bites Dog, Behind the Mask or The Last Broadcast. This film goes way beyond what they were capable of doing. I would say this is the zombie film equivalent of Cannibal Holocaust. Its unnerving, creepy, atmospheric and unbelievably frightening at different points throughout the film.
As I mentioned above the social commentary is there but it is not heavy handed like we have seen recently in 28 Weeks Later or Land of the Dead. The film shows how government is slow to react to all dangerous situations that we are put in until it is far to late and the damage is done. There are so many references to that happening now within the White House that I need not repeat how many time disaster has struck due to the miscommunication or just lack of knowledge of the situation. The other element the film takes a deep look at is ourselves. Is it possible that in a world full of zombies there could be something worse? Yes, human nature. It boils down to what would you do to survive or what would you do if you had complete power to dominate a small base of people? This is definitely a thinking mans zombie film but fret not there is blood, guts and gore.
Besides being one of the smartest zombie flicks I have seen since Dawn of the Dead I have to say this is one of the most visceral. If you have ever seen Cannibal Holocaust you can believe what is happening in every frame of that film except some of the goings on in the offices who plan to air the footage after it is found. Well take that part out and you have yourselves The Zombie Diaries. This is a retinal pleasing production with zombie gut munching, zombie sex and even more disturbing scenes. If you thought the little girl in Night of the Living Dead was sad.. you haven’t seen anything yet.
Shot in a cinema verite style this film really needed quality actors. People who could possibly ad lib their way through a scene. Everyone in this movie pulled off some fantastic performances. You just can’t make a movie of this caliber without that kind of backbone to the movie. Otherwise you have what looks like a bunch of actors just running around on camera. That’s something else that really helps this UK film. You really have no idea who these people are. You can’t look at them as actors because you have never seen them in your life. When you think you have seen every kind of zombie film this one sneaks up on you.
The Zombie Diaries makes zombie films scary again. I can pop in any number of zombie films that I own now and watch them no problem. I have always viewed zombies as a form of entertainment really rather than putting myself in the story. Its something that really hasn’t been done up until this point. With the camera always constantly moving and being right down in the trenches you get a real feeling of what it is like to be in the middle of a zombie epidemic. Trust me folks you don’t want to go there.
In most cases I would say with a film like this no score is probably the best way to go. This is one of those things that the production had to make a big gamble on. Will it take the viewers out of the claustrophobic feeling of the zombie outbreak or will it amp up the scares even more? It was a make or break move. Luckily they went with a very simplistic score that amped up the scares but doesn’t overwhelm the senses. Pitch perfect for this film. No bands, no big orchestras, just a very simple haunting kind of melody that plays at certain points to add to the scene.
Now after seeing this movie, George Romero has some HUGE expectations to live up to with his new film Diary of the Dead. This movie hits every single beat and does not let up for anything. The Zombie Diaries should be an easy sell for any kind of theatrical release. Everyone loves zombies so it shouldn’t be a problem. The only thing I am unsure about is the MPAA. This is a very unsettling film with some amazingly brutal moments and whether or not those will get into any kind of a final cut theatrically is anyone’s guess. However there will always be DVD, the horror fans saving grace. When this flick hits near you I suggest you check it out, you won’t be sorry.