Feb 22, 2010

Posted in 2010s, Coming Soon, Flicks by Decades, Ray, Reviewers

Survival of the Dead (2010)

Survival of the Dead (2010)

– By Ray-

Welcome back, George.

After stumbling badly with 2008’s Diary of the Dead, the master of zombie movies seems to have found his touch again in Survival of the Dead.  Displaying a much more comic touch than he’s shown before, George Romero continues with the timeline he re-established in Diary, following his characters through the early days of the outbreak as they try to find someplace safe to hide from the undead.

For the first time re-using a character from his preceding film, Romero follows the National Guardsmen who robbed the film students in Diary as they look for somewhere to hide from zombie hordes.  That search leads them to Plum Island, off the coast of Delaware.  Unfortunately, while Plum may provide safety from the living dead, the people on it are every bit as deadly.  The citizens of Plum are split between 2 large families, the O’Flynns, and the Muldoons.  Their generations-old feud has now grown to include how to deal with the undead.  The Muldoons, lead by patriarch Seamus, want to keep them alive, both in a misguided attempt to preserve and honor family, and in case someone develops a cure.  But O’Flynns would rather put them all down and be done with them.  Outnumbered on the island, Patrick O’Flynn is forced to leave for the mainland, where he puts on the Internet an invitation for all survivors to come to Plum.  When our soldiers meet O’Flynn, they head for the island, where he plans to end his feud with Muldoon for good.

In certain ways, Survival is a departure from Romero’s usual style.  There’s a lot more humor than he’s shown in his other movies, and the island’s rural setting gives off a Western vibe.  Of course, it still bears some of his hallmarks: there’s some memorable kills, and it wouldn’t be a Romero zombie film unless there was some social commentary.  And a few of the laughs don’t really work, such as one involving a too-creative method of eliminating a zombie with a fire extinguisher.

As much of a step up as it is, though, there are some weaknesses.  Despite a strong performance by Kenneth Welsh, Patrick remains underdeveloped due to some bad writing.  He genuinely wants to provide a safe haven to people escaping the zombies, but he wants to rob them, too?  And the CGI isn’t very impressive.  The effects are even more of a problem when considering how much Romero used to rely on practical effects during his original trilogy.

Overall, Survival of the Dead is likely to divide fans.  There’s a major change to the established rules of the genre at the end which will make you wonder what kind of impact it will have on the series, and why it wasn’t in effect during the previous films.  But there’s more than enough good stuff in the movie to satisfy the fans.  It’s a lesser work from one of the most influential directors in the genre, but there’s still plenty to enjoy about it.

– By Ray

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