Do we really need another “Zombie Diaries” movie? Better question, do we really need another zombie film cluttering up the IMDB? In between films, comics, novels, television shows, merchandising–the walking dead have lost their edge. About now, they have as much capacity to put the audience on the edge of their seats as a Washington Nationals game. Too bad “Zombie Diaries 2” doesn’t buck the trend and inject any life in a shopworn genre. Watching this effort, a viewer gets a ringside view of what happens when Murphy’s Law collides with the Peter Principle.
Three months have gone since a virus wiped out practically all of the world’s population, turning the victims into the predictable flesh eating zombies. Survivors in Britain have taken refuge in military barracks; life there is harsh and brutal, but it beats the alternative of taking your chances against undead cannibals. But hope blossoms when a communication is received, promising sanctuary in Europe. But as quickly as it blooms, that hope wilts when the base suffers a devastating attack by ravenous zombies. The few survivors no have little choice but to travel to the source of the signal, however the road ahead is perilous to say the least. Not only must they travel a landscape where the living dead lurk everywhere–but possibly worse are bandits intent on imposing cruel order and satisfying their deviant desires.
“Zombie Diaries 2” was directed by the undynamic duo of Michael Barlett and Kevin Gates, and between the two of them you’d think they’d manage to get their act together and produce a halfway decent film. But despite their collective talent (or lack thereof), they don’t. The film plods along like a mammoth on tranquilizers, devoid of suspense and chock full of telegraphed shocks. With Kevin Gates also writing the script, it’s safe to say we’re not in for a great 88 minutes either. The screenplay seems to be cribbed from the worst of George Romero, the best of D grade zombie films, and whatever the hell was left over from the “28 Days Later” films that nobody had the good sense to use. The majority of the cast slog through the movie, as if dejected that they’ve been conscripted into an undead turkey. The only ones who show any life are the deviant outlaws, who seem to exist in a dreamlike state that suggests, “Wake me when the raping and mayhem starts”. Soon enough, it does.
There are a few bright spots in all of this. Joshua Dunlop’s and Natalie Wickens’ zombie makeup looks fairly good, despite the film’s tiny fundage. Also commendable is the camerawork by George Carpenter, whose creative POV shots provide enough eye candy that’s enough to prevent the viewer from switching the proceedings off in favor of better entertainment. But it’s a pity their efforts are wasted, buried under a tidal wave of cinematic mediocrity that engulfs the entire film. Special commendation goes to editors Drew Cunningham and Mark Tehnsuko, who were wise enough to trim it down to under 90 minutes. God only knows what would have happened to the audience who had to bear witness to more of this; many would probably be confined to a hospital, the kind where the patients play with modeling clay the entire day.
“Zombie Diaries 2” might be interesting to die hard zombie fans, who salivate at the sight of shambling undead like one of Pavlov’s dogs. But for any other horror fans, it has very little to offer. There’s numerous zombie films out there that are better, it’d be wise to check them out instead.
Michael Bartlett, Kevin Gates (director) / Kevin Gates (screenplay)
CAST: Philip Brodie … Maddox
Alix Wilton Regan … Leeann
Rob Oldfield … Jonesy
Vicky Araico … Kayne
Toby Bowman … Nicholson
Okorie Chukwu … Carter
Russell Jones … Goke