In the early part of the 21st century, an unknown deadly virus spreads among the population. The planet becomes infested with a new threat unlike any other, The Undead. Three compelling video diaries chart the beginning of the plague through the last days of the apocalypse.
Directed by: Michael G. Bartlett
, Kevin Gates
. Starring: Scott Ainslie
, Toby Bowman
, Victoria Summer
, Juliet Forester
, Vicky Blades
, Craig Stovin
, Leonard Fenton
, Jonathan Ball
, Alison Mollon
, Kyle Sparks
, Jonnie Hurn
, Sophia Ellis
, James Fisher
. Music by: Stephen Hoper
This film is actually disturbing. I am NEVER frightened by horror films but this film was something else. It deals with things I've never seen before in the genre and goes to a place far worse than I expected: right into the very core of darkness that human beings are capable of.
There are no stars in 'Zombie Diaries', neither living or undead; nor are there any heroes. The zombies range from freshly dead to putridly rotten but they reflect the normality of the English countryside wearing jeans and tee shirt and other such realistic outfits for the setting. There is nothing extravagant, exotic or amusing about them. Both 'Dawn' and 'Zombie Diaries' (ZD) work in their respective ways, this is not a criticism of either but an observation on the style of the zombies in ZD and how they are different from those of The Master. It is however the same universe as Romero: these are shambling, stupid things that are immobilised by a shot to the head. Upon every level this film is about realism, and the way they walk is with poor sense of balance on bendy legs with their heads drooping uncontrollably to one side; they stink and wherever they are there is the sound of flies buzzing greedily.
But this is not about the zombies. Unlike Romero's stuff and so many other depictions this is a film that is about the humans and just about the humans. It reflects real people with real reactions to a terrifying situation where heroes are irrelevant. They do not have endless stores of weapons, do not have amazing abilities to cope and survive nor are they brave or remotely confident. These people are terrified and real. But it doesn't stop there. We are used to seeing human flaws in the characters of the survivors such as selfishness or cowardice. ZD takes that to a whole new level. We all know human beings can be evil and disgusting things but that blurb on the DVD cover, "uncompromising" is exactly what we have here. We see the most vile behaviour from human beings, a group of survivors being completely wiped out by a psychopath for no particularly good reason, but why should there be? This is what humans are capable of... and more...
The darkness of this film goes way beyond the bad guys of the famous films. One scene features survivors finding a woman chained to the wall of a barn - completely naked - with her eyes blindfolded. "So this is what he was doing..." they say, presuming (it is implied) the bad guy had been secretly raping a captive. Then they remove the blindfold to reveal she is in fact infected. Gross.
When a couple of guys are running through the woods one of them finally slumps against a tree to die as he has been bitten recently. His pal is going to shoot him now. You know it's coming but I still jumped with the gunshot and I rarely jump to movies.
It opens at the end; it then covers a group of journalists reacting to the outbreak a month before; then it shifts completely to a different set of people; then it moves on to some others; then it goes back to some previous ones before jumping forwards again. It works perfectly. It is as though you came across some random film footage. There are numerous people we never know what happens to them. Questions are uncompromisingly left unanswered. It's real because in life there are not always answers available.
This film can be compared to Romero's 'Diary'. That one comes across as made by a man trying to remain current, in touch, up to date, relevant, but who has the baggage of a lifetime and a reputation with making films in the genre. ZD is totally different because we do not feel these people are always acting and this is partly because the director did not tell his actors what to expect to find in that darkened room... and thus we get genuine reactions from the characters, real shock and horror. The acting is ropey in a very few places, but over all is it pretty good or even excellent. Even the gunshots make a realistic and unglamourous "pap" sound rather than that stupid Hollywood style explosive banging.
This film, on so many levels, absolutely breaks from the clichés of the genre. If you are a fan of the genre as a whole and not just of Romero's output I would say this is essential viewing. Until you have seen this film you have seen NOTHING like it in the genre, despite it supposedly covering the same ground as Romero's 'Diary'. Think Blair Witch Project. The director of ZD said he was going for pretty much the same thing as that film and he definitely succeeds.
If all you want is either Hollywood, Romero or cliché you will not like this film... at all. But if you have an open mind, enjoy the genre as a whole and seek out fresh things you must see this. But be warned it is pretty darn disturbing, it is claustrophobic and intense. I've not felt so disturbed by a film since I saw 'Man Bites Dog' in the 1990's.
I make no apologies though for talking it up like this with the potential for spoiling it for you because it seems like not many of us have even seen it and I think this should be seen by as many people as possible.
Review by SunnyDays97 from the Internet Movie Database.