Thursday, 30 June 2011



Has the "found footage" mock documentary format still not run out of steam? It may have worked the first few times - such as Cannibal Holocaust - but so many years after The Blair Witch Project, are we still desperately trying to pretend that all the zombie and slasher and paranormal activity films are "real"? They're not and we know they're not. The genre has worn thin through overuse: when even George A Romero can't make a more than passable zombie outing in the camcorder style then it really is time to go back to making proper films. Too often it's just a handy narrative excuse for poor quality. Can't edit? Can't light? Can't afford a tripod or a music score? Make it a found footage movie: you've now got an actual plot reason why it looks terrible.

It's invariably annoying when there is absolutely no reason for anyone to be filming these events, and frankly every reason not to. When the flesh-eating zombies are advancing remorselessly towards you, the sensible thing to do is to drop the camera and leg it, not stand there fiddling with the zoom lens like an idiot. Back in 2006, the original The Zombie Diaries didn't get over this simple problem of survival instinct's subservience to an atmospheric 16:9 composition, and this largely unrelated sequel (two characters reappear, and one other character returns but is played by someone else) doesn't manage it either: despite the character's claims that "it's important this is all documented", it patently isn't. Why? It's zombiegeddon: who's ever going to watch it?

World Of The Dead: The Zombie Diaries (there's no number 2 on the screen, whatever it says on the box) begins with the entire UK overrun with zombies: a small group of soldiers abandon their base after the living dead break through the perimeters, heading for the East coast to catch the last boats out of the country, heading for the safety of Rotterdam. En route, in addition to numerous zombies they also encounter a despicable gang of psychotic bandits and rapists. Can they get away from them and reach the coast before the last rescue ship sails?

Interspersed with the group's adventures and arguments are other scenes of an execution squad in gas masks and decontamitaion suits, wordlessly murdering people in a barn. These scenes don't appear to have any connection with the rest of the film (until the very end) and again, there's absolutely no reason why they should even have been filmed, let alone spliced into the main film. Still, on the plus side, the picture quality does appear to be superior to the last one. There's only a fair measure of gore, although sadly there's also a pointless and ugly rape sequence which I'd contend has no business in a simple zombie movie. And yet again, it's difficult to care much about who lives and who dies: no-one's particularly likeable and you simply end up looking forward to the next zombie attack.

It is better than the first Zombie Diaries movie, which I really didn't like at all (much of it was shot principally in Letchworth, which is just down the road from me and I've been there several times). But there's no reason why this couldn't have been done as a real movie, especially as the final sequence is shot that way: with the increase in quality of affordable digital video equipment these things can look more like broadcast quality than low-def digital or VHS. The wintry conditions in which much of the movie was obviously shot gives it a pleasingly dreamlike feeling in places. Next time, can we have a proper film?


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