Diary Of The Dead is a film in which George A. Romero tackles the digital age, and the information barrage that it brings us. Rolling news, Youtube, Podcasts, Myspace are the media of choice for an era where information is global, instant and 24/7. It is in this climate that the 'Dead' franchise gets the Blair Witch Project. We follow a group of young film students who find themselves having to band together after the dead start returning to life. Seeing the magnitude of the event a few of the troupe take it upon themselves to record a document of their plight for survival. It is this 'life through a lens' that gives us Diary Of The Dead.
To expand on the cataclysmic events Romero uses footage from news channels, video blogs and web cams. The accessibility of the Internet mirrors the wildfire decline of humanity as the zombies take over and society collapses. However if there is one thing that defines this Internet era, it is short attention spans.
Sadly this pandering to the Youtube generation is what seems to sum up 'Diary'. The strength behind the previous 'Dead' movies was that the survivors were stationary and holed up (whether it be in a shopping mall or bunker). As such it was the banality of their existence that became even more unnerving than the zombie threat. In 'Diary' the action is kinetic and the editing very fast-paced, as if Romero is keen to hold the short attention span of a young audience that now lives off 1 minute video clips, and skim-read 'Wikipedia' articles. As such the characters never stay in the same place for more than 5 minutes, as the scene hopping goes into overdrive.
I'm sad to say that 'Diary' smacks of compromise. Romero inserts his typical biting social commentary, but it's often blunted by a desire to make the film palatable enough to younger generations and audiences. Trying to make reflective points about humanity when they're delivered by identikit good-looking young actors (who look more suited to being in 'The O.C') feels akin to having 'Hamlet' read out by Lindsay Lohan.
Also Romero's hand seems forced to add the checklist of 'teen' horror clichés.
'Gross Out' deaths- Check
Ditzy Blonde Girl- Check
Older 'world weary' authority figure- Check (The professor)
Zombie jumping out from side of frame- Check
Big scary mansion finale- Check
Despite its' flaws, 'Diary Of The Dead' is worth seeing simply for the glimmerings of Romero's post 9/11 views. Ironically, it is modern culture that not only embraces 'Diary' but also forces Romero to dumb down. 'Diary' is a flawed, experimental film from Romero, however a flawed Romero is far more challenging and interesting than 99% of the competition. An honorable 'miss' of a film that sees the master of zombie movies bound by the requirements of commercial success.