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USA / Canada 2009
Director: George A. Romero
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When I was younger I used to ask myself what it’d be like if George Romero directed a new zombie film. How could he possibly top the legendary Dead trilogy, concluded in 1985? After him being only partially involved in the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead, the thought of a new Romero zombie film was almost beyond belief. Thankfully (though some would argue otherwise), Romero’s had a zombie renaissance in the last few years, with three new Dead films released in the last five years. Perhaps tellingly, the budget for these new films has decreased with every new release; his most recent, Survival of the Dead, was independently produced.
I think the decreasing budget helped this new film; by focusing on a small group of survivors in a confined area (echoing the original 1968 version of Night of the Living Dead), he’s able to get back to what he does best: depict humanity fighting amongst themselves while facing the walking dead.
There’s something charming about Survival of the Dead. The makeup is closer to what it was in the 1980s and there’s a lot more humour than there was in Diary of the Dead. Romero’s not taking himself or the film as seriously this time around and it makes for a much more enjoyable experience. There are a few new developments in the mythology of the zombies but everything works; he’s been making zombie films for over 40 years and he knows it inside and out.
The acting is about what you’d expect; some good performances but others a bit over-the-top. I liked Sarge, the main character, but I can’t tell you exactly why. I do like the fact that he was a small character in Diary of the Dead, which makes this film the first true sequel to any in the Dead series.
There’s also the expected level of gore with some good kills, both zombie and human. I know that CGI has progressed to a level now that it’s sometimes cheaper than practical effects, but I still prefer physical stunts and gags for zombie films. There’s just something more satisfying about a bloody squib exploding all over a zombie instead of his head disappearing in a CGI mist.
Though not to everyone’s taste, I enjoyed Survival of the Dead. Fun, gory, and occasionally thought-provoking: everything you’d expect from classic George Romero.Colin Le Sueur