With trepidation I sit down and watch George A. Romero’s most recent offering, but if like me you are hoping this is a return to form… you’d be wrong.
Survival of the Dead follows a rogue unit of soldiers looking for a place to escape the escalating zombie outbreak, their only salvation comes from a viral video suggesting an island as a secure location. However the island is hotly disputed by two rival groups, one of which wants to preserve the zombies and perhaps one day cure them.
Am I wrong, or is it becoming increasingly difficult to see why George A. Romero is regarded as the father of the zombie genre? Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead were all excellent films that stand out in the genre as benchmarks; his trademark manner of inserting social commentary into his stories became paramount to his success. But with Survival, and the disastrously bad Diary of the Dead, I simply lose all hope for his creative vision.
Perhaps it is the climate of over-saturation of the zombie genre nowadays, The Walking Dead television show pulls no punches, and by comparison this film is pedestrian and almost… almost Uwe Boll standards of mediocrity.
It has been a while since I’ve seen so many plot conveniences; Survival just pulls things out of its rotten, stumbling corpse. Oh, she has an identical twin sister we knew nothing about! Hm, I’ve been shot, but it is okay (until everyone who can help leaves, then it is a problem, doh!) This does not help with the distinct disinterest you have for the characters; those Irish stereotypes! Just, wow. Don’t forget the young know-it-all, geeky kid who… I actually don’t know why he’s in this, I don’t even know his name. I just referred to him as “Smart ass”.
While Romero’s films are decidedly mixed in tone, usually effectively so, they should at least have some dread. Like with his previous film Diary, I felt no sense of urgency, threat or fear for anything or anyone involved. The tone and atmosphere is completely shot through the head.
So yeah, what good is there? Buried here and there is evidence of Romero’s larger story; the evolution of the zombies in this apocalypse that is spanning decades. Instead of exploring the how or the why it happened, Romero is exploring the future of a zombie outbreak. Like with Day and Land of the Dead, we see zombies change in intelligence.
It is just a shame this is so woefully underplayed in this film, it is almost limited to the final scene!
So no, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone but the hardcore zombie/Romero fans, it isn’t scary, it doesn’t push any boundaries or even respect the excellent earlier films.
(but it is superior to Diary of the Dead…. for whatever that actually means)