So, I think the world-wide COVID-19 lockdown might have finally broken me. Know why? Because I voluntary made the mistake of watching Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2018) the other day. This second remake of George A Romero‘s seminal, Day of the Dead, is an irredeemably garbage film that’s as welcome as a necrophile in a mortuary.
This film, which possesses none of the original’s claustrophobic militarismo atmosphere, was weighed down by god awful porn-parody level acting (with such little chemistry between the lead actors it was as though they were recorded in different rooms and simply edited into the frame). The plot is driven by stupid mistake after stupid mistake. I know that’s par for course in a zombie film. But track this: at one point the main character gets one of her solider colleagues killed because she wanders off to collect a photo from a room she knew had a zombie in it.
It’s the same basic plot (zombies overrun Earth, survivors hide in a secret base and try to cure the infection, military rule with an iron fist) but dumbed down to the level of Idiocracy. The writers even turned the Bub sideplot – one of the more compelling aspects of the original – into this thing about a zombie evolving over his infection due to the awesome power of his boner.
The first DoTD remake (released in 2008 and starring Ving Rhames, and Nick Cannon) also made this same mistake with the Bub character. And as awful as the 2008 film as a whole was, at least some attempt to be reverent to the material was made. This new version of Bub, called Max (decently played by Johnathon Schaech, admittedly), starts off as the would-be rapist of his nurse Zoe (our protagonist), and utters lines of pure sleaze like “sucking me dry…like a vampire” during a blood-test. Things only get more disrespectful of Romero’s creation when Max actually becomes a zombie.
There are some decent, gory kills and zombie effects (something in 2018, surely any competent filmmaker can achieve), which lend the whole affair a vibe closer to those low-rent Italian Zombie movies of the 70’s and 80’s by the likes of Lucio Fulci than the chad Romero. And gore effects do not necessarily a good zombie film make. Not a Day of the Dead film, anyway. Day of the Dead is the bleakest, most nihilistic and most Hobbesian of them all. It’s not supposed to about models cosplaying soldiers and scientists, and military leader guys being a dick for no reason when their makeshift society is basically doing alright and life is pretty much going on. It’s meant to be THE end of humanity, not a low-stakes middle of the season The Walking Dead episode.
At worst, Bloodline absolutely rapes a classic to death. At best, it’s an incompetently made movie on every conceivable level. The cast are miscast, the characters undeveloped, the story patched together, and the tone all wrong (there’s these cheesy BBC TV drama style music tracks which play over EVERY scene). The film’s worst crime? Well, there’s calling the ‘zombies’ the cringe-worthy ‘rotters’. But I’d go with the fact that, despite shitting over Romero’s legacy to sell a bad film, I could completely envision a post-Land of the Dead Romero making this film (if he were still alive). And that just makes me sad.