Fleet-footed corpses are, from a physiological point of view, complete bullshit. "If you run that fast, your ankles will snap off," says Jason Creed (Josh Close) to fellow film student Ridley (Philip Riccio), the gauze-wrapped lead of his no-budget Mummy opus The Death of Death. Pausing to regroup, cast and crew putter about the woods when suddenly there arrives, arising from the grave -- the death of death. Like, for reals. George A. Romero's latest, Diary of the Dead, unfolds in the ephemeral realm of electronic mass media. Told as a collage of video footage assembled from multiple platforms -- first-person reportage, surveillance cameras, YouTube, cell-phone cameras -- Diary pictures the spiritual stasis and moral collapse of a people resigned to hopelessness: "All that's left to do," says one of our heroes, "is record what's happening for whoever remains when it's over." There's a lot of huff and puff here about the media and its messages as Diary tracks the camera-wielding co-eds on the road to nowhere in a zombie-splattered Winnebago. The dialogue can be overly self-reflexive ("If it's not on camera, it doesnt exist!"), and visually, Romero's ersatz-DIY experiment isn't as suave as Brian De Palma's similar effort in the recent and risible Redacted, nor as exactingly engineered as the video convulsions of Cloverfield. But its scrappy, ultra-low-budget edges are part of its charm, and Poppa Zombie's return to small-scale indie filmmaking delivers big genre kicks.
Feb. 15-March 6, 2008