Written by John Edward Betancourt
When it comes to George Romero living dead movies, George has always preferred to take a few years and really get a feel for the world around us before he decides to drop a social commentary bomb that is super relevant and fitting to the times. Yet when it comes to the fifth film in the series, Diary of the Dead, George took far less time than needed to see an emerging platform that he could analyze and breakdown...the wonder that is social media.
This is a zombie flick well known for being first person, found footage and all that jazz, but when I watched it the other day, it was also prophetic on so many more levels. Obviously, it predicted the rise of social media as a powerhouse in our lives, where being online and connected to the world would be commonplace. That may seem silly initially seeing as to how the film was released in 2007, but let's be honest, it wasn't until a little bit beyond 2010 that social media truly exploded, heck I didn't have Facebook until a year after this flick came out.
Yet while George often speaks to the dangers of the concepts he analyzes in his films, this is one time where he was able to speak the positives as well. After all, a few scenes involving the web end up offering helpful information to our characters, something social media can most certainly do. But of course, the main focus of this film was to not only go back and look at another tale at the beginning of the end of the world, but to look at the dark side of social media as well.
That's where the film becomes super relevant to today. When you look at Jason, his obsession with telling this story makes sense, after all, this is the end of the world, and those who see this video will know what happened provided the world survives. But his obsession with how he tells it, and the danger he puts others in, that's where the real world relevance lies. Heck we even see him sweating how many hits and views his work is getting, sound familiar? After all we are now in the "me" age of social media with Vine and YouTube paying rise to stars who need to worry about the click count to continue to make a living and I commend them for that, but sadly, some feel that harassment or endangerment is a form of entertainment and a fine way to get that click counter moving.
Obviously Jason in the film is taking that to the extreme, but aside from the scathing commentary at times, this is still a solid zombie flick after all these years, and I think what I enjoy about it more, is the manipulation George puts us all through. You see the final trick of Diary of the Dead is the fact that it sucks you in like the real news. Just as we watch the horrors unfold on live television, the same happens here, though this time the real time feel almost robs us of the safety net that horror films provide since the reminder "it's only a movie" gets lost along the way.