Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bald Mountain Night 12: Survival of the Dead

Each day in October, intrepid blogger Alex Boivin will watch a horror movie. These movies are all new to him and are part of his month-long effort to fill in his gaps in the horror canon. If he doesn't die from fright, you just might get to read about about his exploits in cinema during the Halloween season. 

George A. Romero is the father of the modern zombie; the "Zomfather", if you will. Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead are considered genre, if not film classics, and Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead (are you noticing a pattern here?) are nothing to sneeze at in their own right. But you really wouldn't guess that from Survival of the Dead.

Picking up the story of a minor character from 2007's (apparently) ill-fated (I haven't seen it and from what I hear you shouldn't either) Diary of the Dead, Survival follows a group of rogue soldiers robbing and raiding their way through the zombie apocalpyse. Coming across news of an offshore safe haven, they make their way to Plum Island, only to discover a feud between two local families: one who believe that the zombies should be destroyed swiftly and harshly and another that refuses to kill them, hoping for a cure or at least rehabilitation. Would you believe me if I told you it all goes to hell?

I was intrigued by the film's plot and the prospect of another Romero zombie masterpeice, but what I found was the very definition of disappointment. Romero's movies aren't exactly famed for their budget, realism (check the bright red "comic book" blood in Dawn), or acting, but what they are known for is a well-exemplified social commentary through (scary) horror movie tropes. Night dealt with sixties paranoia, Dawn with consumerism, Day with the military, and Land with the rich/poor divide. There's some stuff here about religious fundamentalism and hypocrisy but it isn't deal with until the last twenty minutes or so and feels very tacked on and weak.

Also, the film is played for far too many laughs. I'm not saying that a zombie movie (at least one that isn't claiming to be a comedy a la Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland, both amazing) can't have its funny moments but this one is overboard to the extreme. There's also the question of why an island off the coast of Delaware is populated entirely by people with Irish accents. It seems like the local community theater had just finished a production of Dancing at Lughnasa and the actors forgot to stop doing their characters' dialect when they were inevitably hired for this movie, which is also my way of saying the acting is bad.

There's also a stupid teenager who complains about people not being cool and shows off his iPhone to everyone, despite the fact that this is the end of the goddamn world and nobody gives a shit that you can watch YouTube videos on your phone. How does the internet still work? Where are you getting this electricity?

But was it scary? Zombies are just kind of silly unless they inspire some kind of dread in you, which this movie is tonally incapable of. You also have to care if someone does or does not get eaten alive by them, which I was actively rooting for here, especially in the case of that goddamn kid.

Final Verdict: 8 Congos