Survival of the Dead
George Romero has become a brand name as well as a director. Like Spielberg, Lucas, and Coppola, viewers know what they’re getting from Romero: the ongoing battle of zombies versus humans. Perhaps with a side of social commentary.
“Survival of the Dead,” Romero’s latest film, doesn’t break any new ground but instead gives the people what they want. On a small island off the coast of North America, a zombie epidemic has struck. However, the island’s two most powerful families, the O’Flynns and the Muldoons, are vehemently divided on how to deal with their now-undead peers and loved ones. One family believes in destroying them outright, the other corrals and keeps them alive, with possible dastardly intentions. Into the mix come a small group of National Guard survivors, who after robbing the protagonists in Romero’s previous “Diary of the Dead,” have struck out on their own to survive.
Romero’s cadre of unknown actors are a reliable ensemble, capable of gruesome destruction and defense while never dropping their smart-aleck demeanors. The violent effects are rough and tumble, giving a sense of realism in a CGI-dominated film culture, and there’s a Western-inspired vibe running through the work. Clocking in at 90 minutes, “Survival of the Dead” may induce nightmares but will never leave the viewer bored.
“Survival of the Dead” won’t change the world, but it’s not trying to. There’s no biting message here, but there is snappy pacing, dark humor and plenty of gore to go around. Over time, Romero’s films may have become more product than statement, but as indicated in “Survival of the Dead,” sometimes formula can be fun.