Around the same time George Romero announced his mockumentary "Diary of the Dead," over in Britain, some low budget filmmakers began work on their own zombie mockumentary -- with a suspiciously similar title.
"Zombie Diaries" takes place in the UK during a zombie outbreak the likes of which we have seen a million times in movies before. Dead people walk following some kind of virus and eat the living. A shot to the head can do them in. It feels like almost a companion piece to "Diary of the Dead" and was released in the U.S. by the same company that released "Diary": Dimension Films.
A group of journalistic survivors head out of London. In a small town, they confront a sudden nighttime attack of the undead. Eventually, via a constantly running handheld camera, we follow a band of survivors as they navigate the countryside and confront the living dead in fields that look a lot like Pittsburgh, even though the film was shot in the UK. With a meandering plot that doesn't really head anywhere, the film ends with a strange torture scene sans zombies.
If there ever was a movie that proves mockumentaries are not easy to make, it's this one. In order to get a viewer to suspend disbelief, mockumentaries require believable dialogue and acting -- something that "Zombie Diaries" fails to deliver. The film is sluggish to the point of being unbearable during its first act, when we are getting to know the characters. The characters are flat, unbelievable and their dialogue is terrible.
Compare that with Act 1 of "The Blair Witch Project," "Diary of the Dead", "Quarantine" or "The Last Broadcast." These mockumentaries actually felt real to a certain extent because their characters were so well developed. It really is critical if the viewer is going to buy into the film. "Zombie Diaries" fails here.
You also have to have makeup effects that are believable too. After all, the film we are watching is supposed to be real. "Zombie Diaries" doesn't deliver in the makeup either.
Where it does deliver is in the zombie scenes which do capture some of that George Romero magic. Despite the limited effects budget, directors Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates do capture some zombie eeriness during the nighttime scenes.
But it isn't enough to make this film worth recommending unless you're an absolute diehard zombie film who has seen just about everything else and wants something more. Most everyone else will want to stick with the infinitely superior zombie mock "Diary of the Dead."
diary wasnt that great of a movie anyway. romero really needs to give up zombie movies and just accept the fact that the mainstream could care less about independent living dead movies, it's not the 70's anymore sadly
Posted by General Gokemidoro 731 on December 14, 2008
Have you ever seen a zombie keep a diary? No me neither.
Posted by James Peaches on January 3, 2009
I totally disagree. This film felt far more real than Diary of the Dead, which was absolutely pathetic. What this film did with its low budget was incredible in comparison.
Posted by Charlie Spleen on January 5, 2009
Some effective scenes but as a whole, The Zombie Diaries just didn't work. Too much bad acting and awful dialogue - not to mention characters you just don't care about and contrived situations. 4/10. The strange thing is, Romero's Diary Of The Dead suffered with the same problems, but at the least the special effects were better (I'd give that one 5/10). At the end of the day, neither films are any good!
Posted by ferment on February 23, 2009
The filmmakers love to spam the IMDB boards about how their movie is "critically acclaimed cinema verite" and "has a 73% rating on metacritic" when it's not even listed on metacritic, then they love to throw out all these fake sales figures that aren't even impressive to begin with. They are one reason I will be staying away from this film; after seeing how they behave, I know that they must have zero film-making talent. The other reason is because every actual review that I've seen has called it like it is, a failed zombie movie. I think you need to fix your user-ratings system on this site because that rating is clearly not in line with the general consensus of this film. If it were at 1 or 2 Omen signs then it would be accurate. And I know the film-makers spammed that voting thing too, they do it everywhere. Hell, I was able to vote one star 30 times over and it counted each one.
Posted by Jonno P on March 6, 2009
Unfortunately pricks like Ferment can't stand it when someone likes this movie which is damn kick ass zombie fun. And an intelligent zombie movie to boot. The general consensus is not 1 or 2 Omen Signs. Most people would give it 4 out of 6. Are you one of these imdb trolls yourself? Get a life, loser.
Posted by Ray on March 19, 2009
Apart from a few errors at the beginning of the review (The Zombie Diaries was actually completed before Romero announced Diary Of The Dead. And the 'survivors' at the beginning can't be survivors if the outbreak is only just occuring without them realising it yet), the rest is pretty much spot on. I was looking forward to this but it's all just a bit....dull.
Posted by Zombie Killer 666 on March 22, 2009
I thought it was a great film, spooky, violent, but not gory, nice twist to the whole zombie thing.
As far as Romeros film is concerned, if i wanted a lecture while i was watching a film, i would watch something on PBS. OK, so America is obssessed with their cell phones cameras, blah blah blah!!! Its refreshing to watch a movie for entertainment as opposed to trying to decifer some bodys ploitical agenda hidden in the plot!
Posted by Michael R. Allen on April 5, 2009
This made me laugh, "Have you ever seen a zombie keep a diary? No me neither." Slow moving zombies equals unscarey. Bring me some rage-fueled, frothing at the mouth, speed demons and then I can get into a zombie film.
Posted by awol on May 26, 2009
Agree FAST is BETTER! NO pies in the face here. Move shoot or die. Its that simple .
Posted by Decaux on February 25, 2010
For me the acting was so bad that it was practically unwatchable. If you're going to make a documentary style film, it doesn't really make sense to sound like you're reading off a card. Scenes like the press office with the old guy near the beginning are pure comedy in this respect. Overall felt like I'd been robbed of valuable time with this one. Definitely one to miss.
Posted by Robert on May 20, 2010
I have to agree with the above review. I rented this film not sure what to expect, though there were reviews plastered all over the box claiming it to "Rival 28 Days Later", "the best zombie movie ever" and so forth. This only really set me up for disappointment.
The camera style really bugs me in this. Why are survivors spotting zombies strolling towards them, but not telling their friends looking the other way? Why are they filming while other survivors are fighting for their lives? It's little things like that that start to eat at the film. There's also the fact that I couldn't find myself connecting to anybody, as it jumps between three groups of people, and I never really learned anyone's names except the first four, nor did I find out what their motives were. Also the torture scene at the end really just felt tacked on for... shock value I guess?
Anyway, my opinion, bad movie. Three stories filmed with a grainy camera with two dimensional characters, and a few sub-plots hinted at but never explored no concluded. Sure that could have been the point but it left me wanting more, and not in a good way.
Posted by Laneta on November 24, 2011
Touchdown! That's a relaly cool way of putting it!