George A. Romero has come back in full force with Diary of the Dead.
Romero may have invented the modern horror film with Night of the Living Dead, but Diary of the Dead proves itself to be more of a stellar re-invention of Romero as a filmmaker. Diary may share some of the same traits of Romero’s other work, with a touch of social commentary and a dash of pretention, but he takes more chances with this new material than he has on almost any other movie of his career. His independent batteries are completely recharged and revving at full speed.
The POV-style horror may sound like Blair Witch Project with zombies, but that film never once came to mind while Diary unspooled; instead, the film quickly established itself as a tight piece of storytelling that’s exciting not because it adds anything new to the zombie mythos, but because of the risks Romero takes.
Certain elements (like narration and one or two over-the-top
characters) may seem hackneyed and cliched, but it feels fresh because
Romero densely packs every scene with so much activity and so much to
think about. Diary is also a scary and intense film that does not lighten up on the gore (good luck with the MPAA, George).
The opening night show of Fantastic Fest
is going to prove itself a hard one to top, but they’ve started this
fest with a bang and I can’t wait to see what else is in store.