Friday, 7 June 2013

Review - Survival of the Dead (2009 - Dir. George A. Romero)

Here we are with the final entry in our mini-season within a season: the zombie films of George A. Romero. After the abomination that was Diary of the Dead, I was really hoping that Romero could pull it round. It would be a nightmare for one of horror's top directors to finish on such a bad film.

To a certain extent he's managed to get things back on track. It is linked to the events in Diary, but only in the fact that it includes a character from that film. Rest assured that the found footage element is gone. Phew. But rather than a full blown return to form, he spoils it by the inclusion of some dire effects and some blatantly fake Irish people.

Zombie films, like Big Brother, shouldn't be about the extra little rules or tweaks to a known formula. They should focus on the people. Slap a bunch of people together, mix in some zombies, and see how they get on. Job done. I'm not interested in whether zombies will eat pigs or horses. Badgers though, that would have made an interesting scene. It'd be up there with the zombie vs shark in Zombie Flesh Eaters

Despite the pig and horse episode, Romero does spend a fair bit of time seeing how the characters react to the situation. Sarge Nicotine Crockett (Alan Van Sprang) is the military bloke from Diary who nicks all of the irritating idiots' food from their van. So he's okay by me. He decides to head off for a little island to find some safety. Little does he know that the island has been run by two Irish families, the O'Flynns and the Muldoons since time started. The two families don't get on and they have differing opinions on how to manage the zombie threat. And they like shooting at each other.

One early scene shows how Patrick O'Flynn deals with the dead lumbering chappies. He questions a father of a family about an accident that his child had, and enquires about her safety. When he asks to see his daughter, things go awry. It's fairly powerful stuff, but sadly this level of emotional involvement is not sustained. Yet again in the latter stages, it's a case of a horror film having characters that I couldn't care less about.

Another major problem are the zombie deaths. They're played for comedy rather than horror or disgust. It veers more into Braindead territory, which disappoints after a more drama based approach at the start. It doesn't help that they look so cheap and unconvincing.

At least it was pretty entertaining. I've seen a lot worse efforts than this. Romero has managed to get out of the Conference of zombie films and back into mid-table obscurity. It's still a long way off the Premiership though.

If you like this you could also try:
Braindead, Dead Snow.

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