When a zombie outbreak hits in this latest installment from George A. Romero, the ensuing chaos is captured via the digital cameras carried by a group of film students. And so like Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project, this is another thriller verite that’s as much about terror as it is technology.
Romero gave his zombie flicks a socially conscious subtext right from the start by offering a black hero (Duane Jones) in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. Yet this time, as in 1978’s consumerist satire Dawn of the Dead, there is less subtle social critique than outright sermonizing. For much of the picture, the students pause to debate the ethics of recording the death and violence all around them. It’s like a particularly heated debate in a college philosophy class. On a practical level, this means the movie isn’t very scary. Fortifying your horror film with an intellectual subtext is all well and good – Romero was one of the first to show how this could be done – but you might want to also make sure it’s frightening.