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Festival du Nouveau Cinema ’09: Survival of the Dead

Survival of the Dead

Directed by George A. Romero

George A. Romero. the undisputed king of socially relevant zombiedom. delivers his sixth entry into his Dead series with Survival of the Dead. Unlike Land of the Dead. set several years after the dead first began to rise up and eat the living, Survival opens a few days after the outbreak. The film follows a band of rogue soldiers looking for safe haven in the wake of a worldwide zombie apocalypse . Their journey finds them at Plum Island, where they walk right into the middle of a decade-long feud between two bitter Irish families. On one side you have the Muldoons, who believe the dead should be saved in hopes of finding a cure and on the other side, the O’Flynn family, who believe the dead should remain dead.

With Survival of the Dead, Romero attempts a return to form for his decade-defining zombie movies, only to deliver what could quite possibly be remembered as his worst film. A step down from his large scale epic Land of the Dead and the mildly ambitious POV approach of Diary, Romero chooses a classic style, one that fuses comedy with horror and graphic gore with social commentary. The execution, however, is incredibly clumsy – most obviously hampered by its cliché-ridden script. Riddled with plot holes and short on logic, Survival includes ridiculous plot points like the finding of a million dollars, the living attempting to teach the dead to feed on farm animals, and the most hackneyed device in the plot, an identical twin, thrown in at the midway point. Weak performances from a mostly Canadian cast makes it difficult to engage with or actually care about any of the characters. Amping up the CGI bloodbaths in favor of old-school effects, the gore quotient is certainly high, and the film offers some inventive kill sequences (adding one or two new entries to the how-to-kill-a-zombie manual), but the gore for the most part feels rushed and lazy and won’t satisfy genre enthusiasts. The effects makeup by Francois Dagenais is bland, with the zombies looking more like bored extras lost on set.


Romero’s franchise has always drawn its strength from infusing horror with social commentary, including subtextual critiques of racism and consumerism into the narrative. Land offered a savvy metaphor for closed off communities, while Diary commented on a media and a technology obsessed culture. With Survival, Romero is quickly running out of interesting ways to flesh out that subversive social commentary that usually lies beneath the surface. Tribalism is the main theme of this film, but it is presented such that the viewer does not get pulled in. Adding nothing to his canon. Romero’s Survival is certainly not essential viewing – not even for zombie aficionados.