Survival of the Dead

Year: 2009
Production Co: Blank of the Dead Productions
Director: George A Romero
Writer: George A Romero

I'm sure I've written in one of my reviews for the early Dead films about how the possibilities for that world are so thrillingly endless. You could zero in on any group of survivors in the world and watch their struggle as their minds fracture in fear – which Romero did to great effect in Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead.

But Land of the Dead was more of a Hollywood action movie and Diary of the Dead a clumsy essay on media 2.0 that fell flat on its face. Survival of the Dead looked like a return to the central idea without any such trappings.

But the cheapness of the production and the schlocky script and characters means Romero should have left us wondering what it would be like instead of showing up. The overcooked Irish accents on the idyllic island community are clumsy enough without the characters all being called things like O'Flannery and Mick O'Toole. The stereotypes just make it campy and cartoony.

A group of soldiers on the run pick up a surly teen and find their way to the island, where two rival families have always shared an uneasy truce but explode into all-out war in the face of the undead epidemic. One of the crusty family patriarchs believes the dead should be put in the ground with dignity and finality while the other wants to keep them penned in hope of finding a cure.

The former is run off the island and makes a living tempting desperate travelers to come to his safe harbour haven over a ham radio. The lost platoon falls for it and joins him in returning to the island where their presence lights a fuse on the whole mess.

There are too many laughs (intentional and otherwise), Romero's forgotten how to be scary and there's too much of a hemmed-in, straight-to-DVD air about the whole thing.

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