I can predict how this is going to go. I’m about to tell you how much I HATED this movie, after raving like a madwoman about the awesomeness of Cloverfield. And you guys are going to flood the comments with disagreements, saying Cloverfield sucked and this movie ruled.
Except for Trip, of course, who will flood the comments with movie quotes about the undead. Bring it, Trip! (Here, I’ll get you started: “Grandpa’s fallen and he’s getting up!”)
But I will not be persuaded to alter my positions, no matter how logical your arguments may be! THIS MOVIE WAS TOTALLY LAME! And I was surprised by that, too, because it’s the first time in history that I’ve ever not enjoyed a George Romero zombie movie.
Maybe that was the problem, though: high expectations. Going into Cloverfield, I literally had NO expectations. No idea if it would be good or bad — I’d carefully avoided reviews and commentary on that one. But this one — I know Romero’s work and even when he’s not at peak form, he usually has something moderately interesting to say about human society, right?
In retrospect, however, I think that may have been my biggest problem with this installment — I found George’s point unfocused and disorganized, and it seemed like he was trying to argue both sides simultaneously, which soon made it impossible for me to care what he thought either way. But more on the theme after I give you the plot.
This movie takes us back into hand-held shaky cam territory again, but this time it’s about a bunch of film school students, so the cam is not nearly as shaky as it was in Cloverfield. As the story opens, a group of the students are working on a horror film for their class (about mummies — real original, guys!) when they are distracted by a news report about a dead person coming back to life and biting someone to death. Intrigued, they decide to head out and see if they can get any similar footage themselves. They load up into a big Winnebago-type deal, bringing along their professor (who was, incidentally, one of the most inane characters OF ALL TIME).
At first their plan is to try to capture some scary footage for their movie, but it soon becomes clear that the world’s rapidly becoming dangerously undead, and they decide their best bet is to try to get to the huge mansion of their friend Ripley, who seems to be safe and sound in Philly, surrounded by security cameras and panic rooms.
Which reminds me — one of the things I liked about this movie was that it didn’t just consist of the video the students were filming, but also incorporated video downloaded from the web, images captured by cell phones and Ripley’s security cameras, and some TV news reports too. Unfortunately, the characters showing us this footage were so incredibly LAME that no matter how hard I tried, I just could not sink into this film at all. I mean, seriously — think of every college student stereotype you can come up with and then hire a group of ridiculously bad actors, and voila, you’ve just replicated this movie’s cast. Argh! What were you thinking, George?
Then again, even bad acting wouldn’t have stood in the way of my enjoyment of this film had it not been so brainlessly unfocused at the same time. And here’s where I’ll take you back to my previous comments about George’s social commentary.
In my opinion, if you’re going to use your horror movie to make a point about modern society, you have to at least take ten minutes to sit down and draft out what your point ACTUALLY IS. And at first, I could see where Romero was headed and I approved. The group begins to compare news reports from TV with footage on the Internet taken on the video cameras of witnesses at the same scenes, and they begin to notice serious discrepancies. The mainstream media, in other words, is manipulating the news in order to keep the public in the dark about what’s going on (possibly to prevent a panic, but as we all know, ignorance is pretty detrimental when it comes to fighting zombie wars — hence everybody aiming way too low with their guns).
So, as the character named Jason points out (he’s the man with the cam), it’s vitally important for those who want to know the truth to be able to get that truth from somewhere. If they can film how you kill a zombie, for example, and then they load that footage onto the web, they can teach everybody all over the world how to protect themselves.
Okay, this argument I can go along with — not that I distrust the media as a whole (seeing as how I’m married to a newspaper reporter), but I do think getting your information from a variety of sources is your safest bet, as long as you view all those sources with a critical eye.
But just as I started nodding my head in agreement, Romero turned this on its ear and started to demonstrate to us that the “grassroots” videos are no less “constructed,” and that the people who make them are actually just sick voyeurs with messed up priorities. Jason can’t put the camera down, even when his friends are being attacked, and he routinely instructs his pals to back up and enter a room again, or repeat something they’ve just said, so that he can get a better shot of it on camera. Well heck, Jason, that’s not pure unadulterated reality! That’s MSNBC all over again!
And then, as if that weren’t enough commentary to chew on, in the final moments of the movie, Romero inserts a totally unnecessary scene that takes us back to Ye Olde Zombie Movie Theme: how it just doesn’t seem to take much to turn humans into animals. It was like he suddenly got to the end and thought, “Oh crap! I forgot to make sure everybody knew humanity’s only one crisis away from turning into a pack of rabid dogs!” (Well, to be honest, he’d also had the Inane Professor periodically interject drunkenly-wistful comments like, “I remember the war. . . When it suddenly became so easy for us all to shoot people. . .” but since the everything the Inane Professor said was completely INANE, I confess I’d long since started to tune him out by that point.)
The final line of the film asks us, “Are we worth saving?”
Answer: Not if we can’t make movies more original and interesting than this one!
But hang in there, kiddies, because there is hope for us yet! My next review is going to tell you all about another shaky-cam horror movie (not sure how I ended up with three of those in a row!), but this time, it’s one that actually SCARED THE EVER-LIVING HOO-HAH OUT OF ME. I need at least another day to process it mentally, though, I think. When my husband asked me what it was about the other night, after he discovered me sitting stunned in front of the screen, all I could muster was, “It was about . . . um. . . it was about. . . this . . . and the fire station guys were all. . . and in the attic was this. . . Hey, do we have any vodka? I need to get drunk RIGHT NOW.”
Cast: Nick Alachiotis, Joshua Close, Laura DeCarteret, Joe Dinicol, Megan Park