My first TIFF07 screening is George Romero’s independently-produced return to the “little” zombie movie. (Incidentally, “little” is the adjective for “movie”; these are not gonna be midget zombies.) In advance of the screening, I know only a little about Diary of the Dead. Films in the horror genre are ones that I prefer to approach as “blind” as possible. What I do know is that it employs a plot device similar to that of The Blair Witch Project (and–as it occurred to me while I was watching it–the upcoming JJ Abrams-produced monster movie which may or may not be called Cloverfield): it’s all shot first-person by people who are living through the events depicted. (And here’s a word of warning–if you are susceptible to nausea caused by herky-jerky hand-held camera-work, take a seat towards the back for this one.) The other thing I know about this film is that Romero is going back to square one, zombie-lore-wise. Unlike, say, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead, this one takes us back to Night of the Living Dead, when the existence of the walking dead was new and mysterious and not a fait accompli within the world of the film.
Your toughest assignment, if you choose to see this film and are as familiar with film zombie lore as I am, will be to forget as much as you can before the opening credits roll. If you can take your mind back to the first time you ever saw Night of the Living Dead, that would be perfect. And this goes straight out to you, Constant Reader ZombieKillah: these are Romero zombies. They are not quick like bunnies. They shamble. They lurch. They flail. You can outrun the fuckers if they don’t catch you unawares and chew a hole in your neck before you even know what’s happening and what the hell that awful stench is. (There are more than a few inside-jokey references within the film about how slow these things are, which were appreciated by the audience I was in.)
Basically, this is Night of the Living Dead circa 2007 instead of 1968. Continue reading