Plot: What’s it about?
The mysteries of life after death have intrigued mankind since the first breath was drawn, what happens when we die and where do we go after death? The truth seemed impossible to ever uncover, given that one has to die before learning the answer, but that would soon be shattered. The dead have begun to rise from their graves and other resting places, returned to the world of the living, but changed in gruesome ways. Now as these living dead stalk the survivors, looking to feed on them, pockets of those still alive try to find ways to persevere. Some simply hide, others move from place to place, while still others take time to document the events, with cameras. As these survivors keep a record of these incredible events, will anyone outlast the living dead or will the footage simply be lost, with no one left to watch?
I was unsure of what to expect from Diary of the Dead, as the previews made it seem like the usual Romero zombie formula, but with a Cloverfield type approach. I wasn’t a fan of Cloverfield at all, so I had reservations from the start. This is indeed just what the previews promised, with a handheld camera approach that puts us right in the action. Despite how close we are, I didn’t find Diary of the Dead to be scary at all, or even intense in most cases. Romero seems to have scaled back on the atmosphere for this movie, with more of a focus on the handheld technique and the numerous criticisms of the media. This is Romero, so of course social comments are expected, but this is even more ham handed than Land of the Dead. But Diary of the Dead has its moments and Romero’s flair for the undead shines through, so there are positives. Even so, Diary of the Dead is best suited as a rental, even to diehard fans of Romero’s resume. This Blu-ray disc looks and sounds excellent, plus brings back all of the extras, so this is without question the only version you need to check out.
Video: How does it look?
Diary of the Dead is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Given the film’s handheld approach, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this visual transfer. This is one of the best looking transfers I’ve seen however, with a crisp and clean image that never fails to deliver the goods. The visuals are crystal clear here, with impeccable detail from start to finish. The depth is excellent, so you’ll see the carnage down to the smallest bits of flesh. Even the night scenes have great presence, this is simply a dynamic visual experience and fans will be thrilled.
Audio: How does it sound?
A Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option is included, which keeps pace with the impressive visuals. The audio is visceral, so you do feel like you’re stuck in the heat of the moment, which adds so much to the experience. The small touches that bring the film’s world alive really put you inside it all, great work. Of course, the zombie moans and wails come through well also, as do the screams, panicked yells, and general dialogue. This is just a terrific soundtrack that enhances the experience a lot. This disc also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, a French language track, and subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The extras here include all of the goodies from the DVD, so fans won’t miss out on any supplements. Romero provides his audio comments, joined by two other crew members in what turns out to be a solid session. I always enjoy Romero’s comments and he shares a lot of insight here, while the others also let us in on their perspectives as well. For the Record is a five part, eighty minute behind the scenes piece, which covers just about all the aspects of production you could want. You’ll see Romero in action, how the makeup work was done, and the nuts & bolts of the process. The on set footage is partnered with solid cast & crew interviews, so a great piece all around. This disc also includes five short films from winners of a contest, some outtakes, a couple of brief featurettes, and an interview with Romero on the inspirations for the project.