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Dear Diary; EERRRGGHH!
on September 28, 2009
I probably don't have to tell you that this independent horror film isn't about zombies writing in their diaries. However, I should point out that the cover art has little to do with anything that happens in the film. In such a case you might conclude that this film is a complete waste of time since most DVD cases with exceptionally enticing and irritatingly deceptive cover art are stinkers. In this case that's not so clear. It depends on what you're looking for. As usual, I'll have to chew this into smaller pieces.
-OH GOD NO!! NOT THE HANDI-CAM AGAIN!!!
That's right. This English film is shot using hand-held video cameras much like "Blair Witch" and "Clover Field". Unlike those films, the cameras are handled with some competence. Though I did get a bit sea sick at moments, overall it was tolerable. Other than the adept use of the cameras there was nothing original about this idea. Strangely and mistakenly, there is some very tight in-camera editing while nobody is holding it.
-PLEASE GET ON WITH IT
The actors do about as well as you'd expect from a low budget independent horror film. However, they often aren't given much to do but drive around, rummage through abandoned buildings and look for resources. We get to know them to a certain degree and they all act fairly natural most of the time. Though probably a realistic approach, it hardly makes for compelling viewing. This film really does take its time getting to the zombie part of the diary.
-PLAUSABILITY TAKES A HOLIDAY.
Aside from the whole idea of zombies, there are problems with plausibility in "Zombie Diaries". The biggest problem is one that threatens the entire concept of the film; three separate and unrelated groups of people are forced together by events beyond their control and all of them happen to be video recording their ordeals. That's just a bit too convenient a coincidence. But hey, I'll buy into the premise. Perhaps the thing that bugged me the most was the inconsistent response to the slow moving and physically inept zombies. At one moment a man can push them over and smash their heads in with little resistance and the next moment he's running aimlessly in fear, screaming and getting bitten. If I could walk up to them, push them over and smash there heads in, I'm never running frantically from the buggers. Escape would not be a problem.
-IT'S STILL CREEPY
Despite my criticisms, "Zombie Diaries" has a scary edge to it. The first half hour is especially frightening even though very little seams to be happening. When we do see the antagonists, it is uber creepy. Even though the zombies moved slowly, they also moved very quietly. This kept me on edge and proved fatal to the protagonists a couple of times. Though I think in real life, without the limited peripheral range of a camera, you'd see these guys coming in plenty of time to act. Regardless, I was constantly on my guard waiting for the protagonists to let their guard down or stumble into the stealthy infected.
-GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE
Though almost completely derived from those who came before, "Zombie Diaries" manages to combine the ideas of it's predecessors into something new. Perhaps the most intriguing concept this film tackles is the idea that we'd have more to fear from unfettered sociopaths than the zombies. With a plague shutting down the normal functions of society, even the zombies become victims at these "monsters" hands. They also would make survival for the average person far less probable, as if zombies weren't enough.
-THE FINAL SOLUTION
Whether or not people should see this movie depends strictly on personal tastes. This isn't exciting enough for those who crave high octane action and it isn't thought provoking enough for those who require a challenge. It has scary and edgy moments but might not succeed upon repeat viewing. There is good gore and some nudity but not a lot of either. Yet it definitely has a disturbing and nightmarish mood to it. The DVD has all the requisite extras including deleted scenes, commentary, making of and trailer. Rental might be the way to go if you are curious.