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Is it possible to discuss a George Romero zombie movie without referring to his previous works? Surely by opening this review with that statement I have already failed, but then I cannot imagine that it is achievable. Hell, even if it were by an unknown director it would still be compared to Georges work, as every other zombie movie since 1968 has.
And herein lies the problem. Romero’s works are always the basis for comparison for every zombie film of modern times, and as much as we want to take each film on its own merits we cannot help but harking back to the ‘holy trinity’ of Night, Dawn and Day. And this isn’t anywhere near as good as those. It’s not even up there with Land. However, if you enjoyed Diary of the Dead, and are able to block out that gnawing voice at the back of your head telling you that it doesn’t compare to his real stuff then you should get a decent experience out of it.
Right, from now on I’m going to treat this review as if I’m just discussing any standard straight-to-DVD zombie movie, as really these should be Survival’s competition, and I’ll try not to give out any spoilers.
SOTD can be thought of as 2 acts, the first involves a squad of 4 survivors in army camo trying to get to a safe island away from all the living dead, and the second involves this island itself and its Irish inhabitants.
The army scenes aren’t really anything to write home about, to be honest. In fact it seems more like an expanded introduction purely to get to the point where everyone is on the island. Not only is this part of the film nothing special but the characters are rather devoid of personality too, not cliché enough to be exciting, but not original enough to make you care about any of them either.
When we do get to the island we are thrown into a typical zombie scenario. 2 warring factions, both believing that they have the best solution to the outbreak. In this case, one half opt for the ‘killing all the zombies’ method while the other plumbs for a ‘keep them alive and try to rehabilitate them’ idea.
Anyway, we can all guess what happens here. Lots of arguing, plenty of zombie and innocent deaths, and a final confrontation between the 2 parties and the zombies.
It’s all very ‘wild west’ (even down to the choice of hats the men of the island seem to be sporting) with lots of ranches, horse riding and even a lasso at one point. This means that the scenery is pretty impressive for a lot of this movie. And thankfully it’s actually been shot quite well, with outdoor night-time scenes done in a way where you can actually see what’s going on (low-budget directors take note). It’s almost as if it’s been directed by someone who has done this before…
While the direction is pretty good, a lot less can be said for the screenplay and script. They are so poor it just sucks out a lot of the life from a reasonably decent premise. Give the characters some real motivation, and give them something to say, please! Strewth, we’re not entirely sure why any of these people have made the decisions they did, where they have come from, and what the actually hope to achieve out of their actions. It’s just a bunch of off-the-shelf characters spouting from the script and going to different locations for some reason or other.
And this really is the films downfall. It’s too poorly written, with no real point to it. There is plenty to like here, with some great death scenes (albeit quite heavy of the CG) a decent enough concept, and some beautiful scenery. It’s just a ‘going through the motions’ movie, which is a shame, as the idea of an island of survivors of a zombie outbreak could have been so much better.
Gore Score B-
Norks Score F
Originality Score C
Overall Score C