World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 (2011)

The original Zombie Diaries was released to mixed-reception in 2006 and many thought it was dead and buried forever. But someone had forgotten to shoot it in the head and like a vicious, flesh-hungry beast it has risen from the carnage and come back for a sequel. For lovers of the original, you’ll be pleased to know it’s more of the same. For loathers of the original, you probably best avoid this…

The story is not exactly original: the zombie apocalypse has happened, wiping out 99.9% of the population. A small group of survivors receive a communiqué about some boats leaving the UK to the “infection free” Holland and are forced to travel to the coast of England, facing zombies and some sex-mad bandits on the way. So a traditional zombie flick then; slow zombies – check; Small group of survivors – check; Mission to reach an infection free zone – check; Other humans being more dangerous than the undead – check. Cliché register complete.

Who cares?! It’s a zombie film! Does it matter that it’s unoriginal?! Okay… but World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 also fails to improve on the mistakes of its predecessor: the acting is still shocking in places, the make-up insufficient, the scares almost non-existent, the plot emaciated and the DVD cover and title are once again horribly misleading. The DVD artwork features a giant, ruined cityscape and the words “World of the Dead” smacked over it, but we never see anywhere but Bedfordshire and the biggest building we witness is an old barn… which isn’t even ruined.

The sequel is only marginally better than the original, but does have some plus points. Philip Brodie is superb as Maddox, really driving the movie forwards, and the crazed bandits are horribly believable in their senseless depravity. Some of Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates’ direction is smart and sharp, with some disturbing moments cleverly shot, and the occasional jump scare that works surprisingly well. Other than this, however, the film is fundamentally and irrevocably flawed.

One of the main failings in World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 is the camerawork. It is very difficult to maintain believability throughout “found footage” films; there is always one point in the movie – sometimes several – where the cameraman should simply throw the camera at the on-coming horde of zombies or crazed survivors and peg it, but instead keeps filming and gets everything beautifully in shot. In films such as Zombie Diaries 1 and Diary of the Dead this is partially explained and acceptable, becoming part of the character’s own struggle to come to terms with the situation – hiding behind a lens being a not-so-subtle metaphor for refusing to face reality, and often a reflection on the audience itself.

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2, however, has a soldier carrying a video camera – a soldier! Although only in the TA, it’s completely inexcusable that a combat-ready soldier in a zombie apocalypse has swapped his guns for a video camera. He films constantly, during fire-fights and when he should be keeping watch. It would’ve made much more sense having the “civilian” with them being a journalist – who has an actual reason to film – but instead it’s just a bit baffling and ridiculous.

This – perhaps – is all in the writing; the plot, the individual scenes, and the forgettable characters. It often feels that when writers are confronted by an apocalypse story they instantly lose all sense of humour. Everyone must be moribund. Everything must be bleak. No one can crack a joke or raise the spirits. This often results in what we have here – a lack of personality. World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 has no memorable lines or characters. Only Brodie’s Maddox is really note-worthy, but perhaps this has more to his charisma than Kevin Gates’ script.

For purists the zombies are the meandering, slow kind, and only threatening in numbers. World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 has an army of undead at their disposal and there are genuinely horrifying images at times, with hordes of zombies blocking paths and swarming in underground shelters. Sadly the make-up is shoddy at best and the zombies – although a threat – are barely more than a stumbling nuisance that can be avoided if you skip around them or avoid dark, enclosed spaces.

Is there any reason to see World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2? Other than to support British horror film? Not really. You’ve seen all these elements done better in far superior movies. It is by no means as horrifically terrible as Zombie Undead, but it’s simply another addition to a sub-genre so bloated with mediocrity that it becomes instantly forgettable.

So what’s next for Bartlett and Gates? Refusing to leave diaries alone, they’re both rolling out another “found footage” horror fest called The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill. Perhaps this will be more matured and tighter than their previous two diaries. Whatever the case, I genuinely look forward to finding out… despite its odd name. Clophill? Sounds like a fungal infection.

Rating: ★★★½☆☆☆☆☆☆

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