George A. Romero revolutionized the Zombie in films. He wasn’t the first to portray Zombies in a movie – not by a long shot. No, he was the one that brought the Zombie into the mainstream and kept it there.
Diary of the Dead is another movie in the “The Dead” series (starting with the iconic “Night of the Living Dead”). While not a direct sequel to any of the movies, it takes place in the same…ummm… Universe. A group of art students are in the woods, filming a scene for a mummy horror film when the zombie outbreak starts. Hearing reports on the radio, at first they are sceptical (some more than others). As the night progresses and more reports start coming in, the students realize that maybe something it actually up. The group gathers together in an RV and head out of the city, attempting to escaper the carnage (and possibly get to their own homes in order check on family members). All the while they are capturing everything on film to document what is happening. Encounters with Zombie Doctors in hospitals and being attacked by siblings as well as being robbed by rogue military are all situations that add to the action and to the feeling of desperation. Characters you like get killed, and characters you don’t like also get killed (for a bit…and then again – Zombies, you know). Just when they think they’re safe… well, you know. Hey, why not head out the rich friend’s place where he’s got a panic room and all the amenities you could wish for… That all work out right? Um, this is a Zombie movie – a Romero Zombie film. The film has a quick pace that doesn’t allow you to get bored. As well, I think Romero did a great job “re-jigging” the Dead series for the modern era. Is this better than the original Night of the Living Dead? Of course not. Is it good? I’d say so
While not the first to do it, The Blair Witch Project was the first movie to really bring the “found footage” style of movie to the masses. Telling the tale of three student filmmakers (stole that line from Wikipedia), who went out to make a documentary about the Blair Witch, a legendary figure, and never came back.
The film starts out with a message stating tat the movie was put together from the footage found in the cameras after the three film students had disappeared. The three, Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams had headed out to make a documentary about an evil witch, or spirit that is rumoured to haunt the woods outside of Burkittsville, Maryland (formerly known as “Blair”). They talk to locals who tell them the tales they heard as children growing up in Burkittsville, and how the witch tale was used to keep kids in line. They also hear the tail of a tragedy that happened in the 1940s with the disappearance of several local children, as well as several men from the community. Well, the three decide to head off into the woods in search of the Witch, or at lease evidence of such. Soon they find themselves hopelessly lost and it seems the focus of some weird nocturnal activities. They hear weird sounds at night and fins strange constructs of twigs and wood as well as neatly stacked rocks around their tent in the morning. As time passes and they become more and more loss, the individuals start really showing their stress in the way they interact with each other. The weird sounds and such continue and increase, adding to the stress of the group. When one member of the group disappears in the night, and fails to return, it just gets worse. You know things are just not likely to work out for our little group of film makers.
The Blair Witch Project did a great job of capturing the initial enthusiasm of the three, as well as there slide to desperation , and breakdown of the three main characters. They manage to remain believable (for the most part), and while you may grow frustrated with them at times, it’s at times where youy as a watcher are supposed to get frustrated with them. Is this a good movie? Damn straight.
Check out the trailer below, and if you haven’t seen it yet, go out and get yourself a copy.