I just finished watching Diary of the Dead, a George A. Romero film. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Romero’s films. From Night of the Living Dead to Land of the Dead, those are my favorite movies. His movies aren’t scary because there are zombies lurking around, but because how quickly our true colors show in such a dark time. His movies, beleive it or not, are social satire. From the all out attack on consumerism in original Dawn of the Dead, to the corruption in politics of Land of the Dead, these movies always had a deeper meaning.
But Diary isn’t a sequel like the first four were – although originally supposed to be made up of Night, Dawn and Day, Land was thrown into the mix to undo the trilogy. Diary is a redoing of Night, if anything. Rather waking up in a world where the people are already become accustomed to seeing their dead relatives reanimated and on a killing spree, this group of college students plus professor are finding themselves in the midst of an outbreak via Youtube, Myspace, blogs and the like. So off the bat, I already presumed it was an attack on the underground media, a la this wonderful thing you’re reading.
While it does, it also doesn’t attack bloggers and Youtubers in the way you think. In a sad and pathetic way, Romero states that when all else fails, the only ones you can rely on are those not tainted by outside influences. So it’s an attack on the popular media – CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, etc. – as this form of media has a way of censoring the news in order to control our very thoughts. (Read World War Z and you’ll see a lot more of this.)
It’s also an attack of xenophobia (like that wonderful, movable border wall that you white Nazis want in my backyard [Note: not all white people are Nazis, just the ones in support of the border wall]) and military. It ends without an ending. We don’t know if the survivors actually survive or if they’re pretty much screwed and they’re dead. Who knows. What I do know is that this leaves the door open for a new set of zombie movies in a world that really needs them. And I mean good zombie movies. Romero also goes off to attack the neo-zombie movies (namely the shitty remakes of his classic films) by stating at the beginning that the dead cannot move fast. If they were to move fast, they’re ankles would snap off. Thank you Romero for staying true to your form and not making your zombies Olympic runners. Or Spiderman (god that remake of Day was just awful, I don’t think the movie company would mind you stealing it because only idiots would by that version).
The movie asks the question, are we worth saving? It’s a question that continually goes unanswered in all of Romero’s Dead films. It’s a question he poses because we know that deep in our minds we’d say yes because that’s what we’re inclined to do; however, in our hearts, we truly know that we’re not.