Monday, 22 March 2010

Survival Of The Dead

George A. Romero's new zombie flick goes back to it's roots. But is it still alive and kicking or dead on it's feet? The Wild Bore finds out.

I don't even think this got a cinema release and instead went straight to DVD. I remember the time when the Romero trilogy was something that could never be surpassed by a zombie film. He rewrote the playbook and was truly the King of the Undead. However, once horror started coming back to the fray, and Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake did well at the box office, Hollywood decided to bring Romero back from the grave to continue his zombie franchise and he brought to us Land of the Dead. Problem was, it bombed. With a fair amount of money behind it, some top actors including Dennis Hopper and a decent PR campaign, this looked like it might do well. Unfortunately, not many people liked the idea of zombies forming an army and invading a human city - it just seemed a bit ... stupid. I thought it was OK, had some good bits and followed the path that Romero set up in Day of the Dead where zombies were starting to evolve. But instead Romero's comeback became rather timid. However, he followed this up with Cloverfield cam-in-hand style Diary of the Dead which was probably the most awful zombie film I've ever seen. So anything after that had to be better than his previous attempt, and so comes Survival of the Dead ...

The story picks up from the army guys who invaded the truck in Diary of the Dead. They decide to go their own way and go to an island off the coast where two warring families once stood. One side wanted to kill all zombies, the other side wanted to keep them around in case a cure is found - they couldn't bare the thought of killing their loved ones and so drove the zombie killing ones away - which is how the army guys find the island. Right, so that's the story but is it any good?

Oddly enough, you can see Romero has tried a bit with this one. The shots, characters and inevitable zombie onslaught are similar to his first trilogy but there are a lot of problems. Firstly, you're not sure who you are supposed to sympathise with, which might be good if done right, but here it just feels like the script asks too much of the audience to keep switching sides. Secondly, there's not that much of a zombie presence, the final frenzy is rather short and unsatisfying. There is also a dire case of bad CG at work, and compared to today's standards, it looks totally whack shack Iraq. Also, why do all these guys on the island speak Irish? It makes it feel rather inbred. Which it probably is seeing as there's apparently only two major families on the whole place!

The army protagonist also just acts a bit too macho, to the point where it's a bit weird and cardboard. The lesbian soldier also first comes on-screen by, well, cumming. Why she is masturbating in front of everyone when they're supposed to be looking for zombies I'll never know. You're also not sure why it's called Survival of the Dead. Is it because they're being kept alive? Or because they're being trained to eat something that's not human so they can survive? The title promised so much more. It's also a story about pride and family - but not really. It's a meek attempt to add some backbone to a lifeless piece. The boy who wants to be a man is just an annoying storyline to keep the young un's in with someone they can relate to, they've got the token minorities in there and an old wise man but it just doesn't cut it. Even the gore looks a bit strange and way too 70's - not in a good way either with bright red paint, I mean blood, and a classic post-Nam 'isn't war so silly' kind of vibe.

Overall, this film is a pretty poor attempt to get back on track. Romero has lost whatever it was that he had and even though this is a LOT better than Diary of the Dead, then unless you are fans of his previous work, you won't want to watch it, and to be honest you shouldn't. There was enough to keep me entertained, but it's definitely for fanboys only.

Rating: 4/10

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