Directed by: George A. Romero
Premise: Another installment in the Romeo’s zombie series. A group of survivors make their way to an island on the east coast, where two families clash over how to deal with the undead.
What Works: Survival of the Dead is unique in its human story; the film is essentially a zombie western and its blend of the genres makes for an interesting confection. The film takes the setting and family conflicts familiar to Westerns but then places zombies in that context and with it the socioeconomic themes of the undead films.
What Doesn’t: The trouble with Survival of the Dead is that the film does not have any sense of danger or urgency. The staging of the scares isn’t very effective and the film struggles with any sort of narrative momentum. The pacing is off; the film isn’t driving toward a climax and when it ends the finale is underwhelming. The ravenous energy of classics like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead is absent from this film and the zombies lumber around in the background, not doing much of anything. And as ripe with possibility as the metaphor is, the film struggles to make use of it. Where Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead were both very prescient to the culture, Survival of the Dead struggles to make that connection.
Bottom Line: Survival of the Dead is interesting but it isn’t very good. The film just isn’t scary and its metaphor, as ambitious as it is, does not pay off enough.
Episode: #291 (June 6, 2010)