Back in the 60’s George Romero and a few friends made a low budget horror flick on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. The film was grainy, used local towns people as extras, and completely redefined the horror genre of movies. Before Night of the Living Dead horror films were campy gore fest with no story really to tell.
Night of the Living Dead took on social prejudice and challenged viewers to think about who they would trust in the event of the end of the world. In Romero’s latest film Diary of the Dead he challenges viewers to again consider who they would trust, but this time it is the media that he examines.
The premise of the film is simple: A group of college students are filming a horror movie when zombie outbreak occurs. After arguing what to do and where to go they decide to head to Scranton, PA. The twist is the the director decides to film the entire trip and upload the events to his Myspace page. The entire film is narrated by one of the survivors who movies the film along.
I will not get into the cinematography and the ins and outs of the film. What is really interesting is the way Romero juxtaposes traditional media with social media. The director in the movie is convinced he is making a film that will show other survivors how to survive and since people are turning to things like Myspace and Youtube to get news about what is happening around the world.
Several scenes the narrators reminds the viewers that traditional media is covering the news to make money, if there is no more money, chances are there will be no more news. Romero isn’t all praise for social media either. Another quote was, “when there were three media channels there were three lies, now there are 40,000 channels and 40,000 lies.”
Romero also examines why we blog and why we upload things to Youtube. His theory is that by looking at things through a camera lens, or convincing ourselves that we are informing the public allows us to be less human and also allows us to desensitize to the horror around us.
There really is too much social media commentary for me to talk about in one post. The film is almost as good as Night of the Living Dead and it really challenges us to think about media and social media in a new way. To be honest I don’t think the film will do to well in theaters, zombie horror is always a tough sell, but I suggest that any one that loves social media check this movie out.
The honesty that Romero presents the situation in is compelling even if the characters are a bit archetypal. In the past people have complained that Romero tries to preach too much in his movies. I think Diary is a success because Romero doesn’t take a side he simply says this is what would happen if; a mark of a fine film.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think about the film? Would you see it even though it evolves zombies? If you saw the film do you think Romero’s commentary was too harsh or was he on target? Let me know what you think.