Survival of the Dead
So it’s the new George Romero movie. Dawn of the Dead has been such an integral part to my brain since I saw it when I was eight & because it’s shot like a guerilla documentary I couldn’t tell if it was real or not. Still it seemed like a more hopeful apocalypse than the one that I had seen in The Day After. So that’s the back-story of why I keep going back for more Romero.
Romero’s last zombie movie Diary of the Dead seems like it was pretty universally panned, but I thought it was a return to form for what he did that I loved in movies like Night of The Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, & The Crazies. So I was pretty hopeful for this one. The re-use of a couple of bit characters from Diary of the Dead seemed to point to the importance of Diary to Romero within his zombie mythology. The opening bit about people’s willingness to shoot loved ones in the head was interesting enough & I think was meant to be a major part of the social commentary that makes Romero more than just a hack, but instead just kind of floundered. The value of money versus the value of life was another clear piece of social commentary that didn’t seem fully explored (though of course it was touched on in Dawn of the Dead well enough). Those were the two ideas that were what I would’ve been interested in the movie for.
Now what I had a problem with was despite being better than 90% of zombie films (not too much CGI, doesn’t look like something I could’ve shot in my yard, has decent actors, doesn’t have so many main characters that I get them confused), it felt like Romero fan fiction more than a Romero movie (same complaint I had with Land of the Dead). This was the third Romero movie in a row that had a scene with zombies in water over their heads, I’m not sure if this is supposed to be interesting or cool or whatever; but I didn’t care when it happened in the Italian zombie movies in the 1980s & I don’t care now. There were quite a few comedic zombie kills (head completely explodes from a single shot & then a bit of the scalp lands on the neck, shot in the belly with a flare & then the head lights on fire, fire extinguisher shot into the mouth & the eyes pop out to look like a scene from Shrek), which isn’t really something I think of happening in Romero movies – his comedic elements aren’t usually this slapstick, they usually are making fun of humans being jerks (e.g. seltzer bottles the motorcycle gang sprays at zombies in Dawn of the Dead). The main plot was about keeping your loved dead ones alive, an idea that’s been explored quite a bit (touched on in pretty much all of Romero’s work, though more thoroughly explored in some other films in the genre like The Dead Next Door or Return of the Living Dead III). So the people are trying to keep their dead loved ones alive in case there’s a cure, which makes sense enough. In most zombie pieces people end up needing to kill people to feed their loved ones, which is an interesting idea because of course they’re killing real people to keep a ghost of a person alive; in this one their trying to get zombies to eat live stock – pigs & horses. While I know that within the mythology the zombies generally prefer to eat live human flesh, they were shown eating a mouse way back in the original Night of the Living Dead, so I don’t see this as a huge thing moving the mythology forward. There was a bit with a living twin & a living dead twin which could have been an interesting story to develop, but seemed like an idea that came out of nowhere halfway through the movie.
Nothing new, no real social commentary, not even a Milla Jovovich to stare at. Probably the folks who got into zombies from the Resident Evil franchise will like this fine. Me? I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen, the same as I did with Land of the Dead.