Survival Of The Dead (2009)

George A. Romero is known for one thing – zombies. He’s created a genre, he’s a master of it, but his latest offerings have been ill-received and border on accidentally parodying his previous work. It’s testament to the latest film’s quality that it didn’t even receive a theatrical release in the UK – and the words “straight to DVD” are disconcerting at the best of times, so seeing them on a Romero film set off violent alarm bells. And these bells were screaming for a very good reason.

Focusing on the group of soldiers who held up the R.V. in Diary of the Dead, they pick up a tech-savvie teenager and head towards a “safe-haven” island in search of peace and tranquility. Stealing a ferry, they reach the island of Plum and find something far from tranquil. The family Muldoon, one of two huge families on the island, is convinced the dead can be taught to eat meat that isn’t human, while the family O’Flynn want all the dead to stay dead. As the Muldoons try to do anything to prove the undead can learn, a vicious stand-off between the families threatens to kill everyone left on the island, the soldiers included.

Survival of the Dead is really just a lot of small scenes, stitched together into a larger beast. None of the scenes excel, and none of them really sag, they all just occur. The zombie genre is incredibly oversaturated, and you pray for some originality in Romero, but it’s only his message and the potential for a learning, evolving zombie that’s of any real interest. The rest is the usual violence, silly awkward humour and flesh-ripping, gory fun we expect from Romero, but have tragically become bored of.

The characters’ motivations in Survival of the Dead are confused, their morals seemingly random, and their sense of trust utterly idiotic. It is hard to relate to any one of them, and it feels Romero is out of touch as to what really matters in modern society any more. This is especially concerning considering how focused on one situation the plot is – not the apocalypse, but the people – and how it fails to deliver any real character that isn’t stinkingly stereotypical.

There are moments of nostalgic charm and moments of classic Romero, but these are surrounded by moments of utter blind stupidity – like the pointless opening sequence, the twin, the fact the internet is still fully operational on laptops and phones. It touches on infuriating, but gets away with it simply because you know it’s Romero. Anyone else would have barely got this to pre-production.

Survival of the Dead is expected stuff – the usual off-beat, slightly awkward humour, the violence that still smells of the 80’s, the message that is smashed into the audience’s face – but it’s just too expected. Survival of the Dead merely happens. Fun, violent, silly and enjoyable, it does nothing new and covers ground that’s been shuffled over by the undead for decades.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.