Director: George A. Romero.
Starring: Joshua Close, Michelle Morgan, Shawn Roberts, Phillip Riccio.
Details: US / 95mins (18).
"Dear Diary, Guess who I've just bitten. . ." Romero returns with a new installment of a zombie franchise that likes to comment on the ills of society; this time around, it's the horror viewer/fan and the media - "if it doesn't happen on camera, it's like it doesn't happen". Taking his cue from Cloverfield's and Blair Witch's set up (found footage), Diary Of The Dead is a mockumentary following a group of student filmmakers as they try to shoot a horror movie just as a 'viral infection' breaks out. Soon, the town is beset by undead, who lumber the streets feeding on human flesh. Seen through the eyes of director Jason's (Close) camera and edited later by his girlfriend Debbie (Morgan, who narrates the horror with her Sarah Connor after-the-fact voiceover), the small film crew board a Winnebago and drive for safety. Those pesky zombies, though - they're everywhere. There's a hint in Diary Of The Dead that Romero is starting to feel that the apocalyptic zombie sub-genre is on its last legs. It's not the tired set up, the lacklustre acting or the plot that doesn't go anywhere - there's a moment early on when Jason mumbles, "There's always an audience for horror, believable horror". That might very well be true, but it doesn't feel like Romero believes it himself. In the meantime, though, he wants to go out with a bang and Diary Of The Dead is certainly one for horror fans (Stephen King, Wes Craven, Simon Pegg, Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo Del Toro can be heard giving news updates on the radio). It's hard to decide if this is the best horror parody ever made or it's just not great at all - the dialogue is deliberately bad and I presume the acting is too, while the splatter is upped about ten notches (Romero can't resist recording the sound of every drop of the blood that splashes against the walls, floors or faces of all and sundry). There's even a deaf, sickle-waving Amish guy. It's a change of tack for Romero and it'll be interesting to see if his fans will go along with it.