Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Zombie Diaries 2: World of the Dead

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! "Story?  Who needs that?" - The mantra of many wannabe filmmakers who make low budget zombie movies.

The Zombie Diaries 2:  World of the Dead – 0 out of 5

If you caught my last review (it was for The Coed and the Zombie Stoner and you can check it out here), I mentioned how I wasn’t quite ready for the Halloween season to end so I decided to have a zombie weekend.  The first entry into that weekend was an attempt at a dark comedy (emphasis on "attempt") but this one is a legitimate try at making a zombie movie that has all the hallmarks; for example, action, gore and terror.  The movie is The Zombie Diaries 2:  World of the Dead (or it’s World of the Dead  The Zombie Diaries 2 or just The Zombie Diaries 2 or even World of the Dead:  The Zombie Diaries—the title seems to vary from website to website) and it’s a sequel of a zombie film that I checked out back in 2014 (called The Zombie Diaries, in case you didn’t guess).  Obviously, I didn’t think too highly of the first film since it’s taken me 3 years to check out the sequel and, honestly, this one isn’t too different from its predecessor.

Okay, that one zombie in the suit clearly just spilled Kool-Aid on his shirt.

In a world where the dead have taken over (oh, that’s why it is called World of the Dead), a small band of soldiers try to survive in a tiny camp.  After a horde of zombies ends up overrunning their shelter, a soldier named Maddox (Philip Brodie) leads a small collection of soldiers and a woman named Leanne (Alix Wilton Regan)—a survivor the crew had found—and flees for safety.  However, in their travels, they discover that they aren’t the only living things out there in the wilderness and there is a collection of bandits out there hunting them.

At the very least, this movie has a diverse cast.  I'll give it that.

The Zombie Diaries 2 is almost exactly the same as the first film—with all its short comings.  The only difference is some very minor story elements.  Hell, the film even once again forces a “found footage” aspect even though it doesn’t make any real logical sense—this plot argues that it is for “documenting purposes.”  If this movie didn’t have a different title (or several, in this film’s case), there would be no telling the difference between this one and the last one.  

This is Leanne, the survivor of the first film.  Who can forget everything she's lived
through?  Well, I guess I can because that movie was very forgettable.

World of the Dead is basically a bland, boring feature that offers up no atmosphere, no sense of urgency and dread, and absolutely no tension.  The story slowly trudges along and feels like it has no destination in mind.  Even when there’s the theoretical threat of some marauders out there ready to do a different kind of harm on our soldiers than the undead will it never feels like they are in danger.  Add in the weak “action” moments with the zombies and it made for a movie that never really felt like it was capable of raising any heartbeats.  In fact, this movie is so slow and so directionless that it ultimately felt like the story had no pulse whatsoever.

This movie is actually amazing at being unable to create interest.
For example, this is a shot of the bad guys raping a zombie and this film
somehow made this theoretically shocking scene feel boring and pointless.

Adding to this flavorless stew are characters that have no depth and are basically just names, genders, ethnicities and occupations.  Beyond those short descriptors, they are nothing else.  Without anything dynamic backing them up, these characters are just one-dimensional nothings that are impossible to sympathize with or even invest in.  I found there was literally nothing about them that made me care about their journey or desire to see them do anything, let alone even live to the end.  The story already has a lot of problems with having no real sense of conflict but taking no conflict and putting in shapeless characters into the story and you have a recipe for nothing.   This movie is the zombie equivalent of watching paint dry.  

Graveyards are creepy by their very nature...this movie actually made me
feel completely indifferent to them.

As for the performances of these faceless, depthless characters, I couldn’t tell you if they were good or not because all the actors are basically cardboard cutout stand-ins made to spit out short, lifeless dialogue.  With no meat for the cast to chew on, you never get a sense that anyone has a personality and I can’t fault them for not giving the performance of a lifetime.  If I was in there shoes and giving such a paltry script, I would have also only give a small fraction of effort.  The only real highlight is that actor Philip Brodie as the soldier Maddox is genuinely decent and is doing his best with the limited amount of nothing he was given.

I was actually really impressed by Brodie.  He really was able to make something
out of absolutely nothing.

If you want a great, memorable zombie movie, you need characters and a solid story.  Too often, low budget zombie movies think you can replace these elements with blood and gore and that will somehow make the film entertaining and engaging.  It might work for some but, for me, it is a lack of substance and no style because viscera and guts can get boring.  The shock eventually wears off and what you are left with is just repetition.  As much as I hate horror movies that try to carry itself with gore alone, I actually wished this film would have done this because at least it would have been something in a sea of nothing.  Just like the last film, the make-up effects on the zombies are lazy at best (truth be told, I’ve seen Halloween costumes from randos on the street that looked far more extravagant) and the gore effects are even lazier.  Nothing looks authentic in this film and all you are seeing is something that looks like the effects department couldn’t make the trip to the Halloween Express and, instead, just ran to the grocery store for discounted ketchup for its blood.

This is the only zombie in the entire film that actually looked halfway decent.

Whatever the real title of this film is, The Zombie Diaries 2 is a really weak, horribly generic, absolutely pointless “found footage” horror film that feels utterly devoid of any worth.  With its dragging plot, needless use of first person filming, lack of character depth and absolutely no tension, atmosphere or sense of conflict or urgency in sight, the film is just a horrible bore.  There isn’t even a semblance of a good film hidden among the producer’s apathy.  The lack of creativity and storytelling in this one makes it feel like this was made only out of a contractual obligation rather than a desire to create.  The reality is none of the films we enjoy and love have any real reason to exist.  Sure, they are around to entertain us and give us something to engage with but they aren’t a necessity like water, food or air.  For that reason, I am always hesitant to ever say a film doesn’t need to exist or say “Why do we need this?” whenever a remake, reboot or sequel goes into production because I’m self-aware enough to know that we don’t need it but sometimes these things are great to have around and they do ultimately serve some sort of purpose.  World of the Dead, on the other hand, really feels like it didn’t need to be made and pretty much feels utterly pointless.

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