... Gentlemen, what we have here is a failure to uh... Well, uh... It's just a failure...
While Diary of the Dead was supposed to begin a new generation of zombie films outside of the original mythos, I really can't see how that's going to happen with these most recent efforts arriving on the scene to poor reviews and this most recent installment hardly even receiving a limited theatrical release before it fell straight to DVD. Slightly continuing from Diary, Survival follows the military group from that last film (yeah, I bet no one remembers them, I sure as hell didn't), as they bounce about from location to location as they shoot people and occasionally make a lame joke. Hearing of the zombie-free land of Plum Island, the soldiers set off to find this place of solace, only to be caught between two warring Irish families. The catch is that one family wants to kill the zombies while the other wants to keep them alive... And in turn, murder those who want to kill the dead... Makes sense doesn't it?
Honestly, there seems to be a good idea locked in here somewhere, but much like Romero, I couldn't find it. At first, the family conflict dynamic seems like an interesting spin on zombie folklore, but that thought quickly vanishes when you realize just how unbelievably stupid it's all executed. In a film rife with horror violence and some awful CG effects (old-school grue, where are you?), the only thing to make my jaw go slack was the constant attack of idiocracy being forced into my brain. It's nearly impossible to fully calculate the sheer amount of stupidity leaking out of this films every orifice, but I'll try and nab the big parts. For starters, the morality of this flesh-eating tale is just mind-boggling. Multiple characters make the point of instigating fights with people so that they can then MURDER them. Yet, during scenes directly before and after this, these killers try to speak of how noble they are as they "Never kill anyone they don't have to". One scene has the lead protagonist witness a plethora of staked zombie heads which hillbillies are using as a defense against any oncoming zombies. Seeing this, the soldier is sickened by what they've done to these zombies who are also all black ('cuz, you know, every country-dwelling white guy is racist), and thus instigates further-killing all of the hillbillies. Yet, cut twenty minutes late and this same character is lighting a zombie's head on fire, igniting his cigarette off of the cranial flames, then karate kicking it off a boat. So he had problems with hicks decapitating them, but there was no issue with lighting it on fire, watching it burn then kicking it in the already melting face?
And then there's the whole family feud. I mean, just thinking about it is already making me angry. I can't believe that this was conceived by a veteran filmmaker as it's so unforgivably stupid. Yeesh, anywho... One family (the reasonable one) wants to kill the zombies because they're f*cking ZOMBIES. They eat you! It hurts! You die! Okay, you got that? The other family, wants to keep them alive and MURDER everyone that doesn't agree with that. Yet, jump halfway through the film, and the purveyor of the zombies begins killing them with glee! AS HE'S SPEAKING OF HIS CONVICTION TO KEEP THEM ALIVE! So, let's get this straight. It's okay to murder people, but if they're zombies, it's a no-no, but you can kill 'em here and there if you talk of your own nobility in doing so? by Romero logic, yes... That's exactly what's going on. The reasoning behind this is that they could find a cure to making the zombified locals normal again, or they can just get them to eat something non-human. Okay... Gosh... I need a breather for this...
Oh, man... **Yawn**
Hang on... **cough, cough**
First thing: Zombies are DEAD people; humans which have been KILLED. Just because they repeat movements does not mean that they're now alive. I know Romero likes to toss the idea of cognitive rehabilitation around with these undead killers, but that only worked with his one great film, Day of the Dead. Sorry, pal, I don't buy it anymore. The body might work in the most basic of functions, but the soul is gone. THEY'RE F*CKING DEAD. I'm sorry, but even if they found a cure for "zombie", that person would still be suffering from a missing jugular, not to mention the kid missing the back of his head during the outset of the picture. Can't cure that. So yeah, they'd still be dead, dumbasses! Second thing: by getting them to eat other things instead of humans, you're just extending their palette. Way to go. Now, not only will they try and kill us off, but all forms of life as well. Good job.
And this stupidity wouldn't be such a problem (well, yeah, I lied, it would be), if it wasn't depicted through such sincere justification (with the occasional fail at off-beat humor tossed in). Romero chooses a fence-watching position as he tries to use his ridiculous logic to show how "both are right, now let's all hold hands". Baloney. If Romero could find a way of better conveying these themes instead of going all Avatar and displaying them with the subtlety of a nuke, then MAYBE, just maybe, it may warrant at least one star. Just maybe. As it as though, the movie's messages are conveyed with grace of a dyslexic third grader who's never seen nor read anything. Ever.
Okay, so I'm going to try and search beyond the unabashed idiotics of the narrative and dialogue to somehow find something worthwhile about this travesty. Um, well, some of the exterior shots are nice, but they aren't utilized to their fullest whatsoever. Instead, they're practically only there as transition shots, nothing more. Shame. And uh, well... Yeah, really can't think of anything else.
I can't truly put into words how truly awful this film is. The dialogue and story are a vicious whirlwind of plot holes and contradictions, the characters are obnoxious and in constant need of a bullet to the head (more so than the zombies themselves), the action and horror of the walking dead tries too hard to be gruesome, yet "funny", and the humor falls flat on its ass ever time it rears its head... Damn... And I thought Diary of the Dead was one of the worst zombie films ever made. Romero, you've proven me wrong. Touché, good sir, touché. Gentlemen, what we have here is a failure to uh... Well, uh... It's just a failure.