Survival of the Dead
Three years ago George Romero put himself in a corner with Diary of the Dead, a limp commentary on the Internet Age that provided further evidence—following 2005's underwhelming Land of the Dead—of the once great zombie master's near-complete irrelevance. Lately the harder Romero's tried to be "with it" the more he's appeared woefully out of touch; perhaps getting wise, newest installment Survival of the Dead is his broadest allegory to date.
The results aren't much better. Spun off from Diary, Survival teams Alan Van Sprang's rogue military unit with Devon Bostick's preternaturally unfazed teen and, eventually, salty dog Kenneth Welsh. The latter's been exiled from his native Delaware island by rival Richard Fitzpatrick, the zombie apocalypse exacerbating a generations-long war between their respective clans. Welsh approaches the undead with unsentimental pragmatism—shoot 'em in the head, period—while god-fearing Fitzpatrick keeps them as slaves, exploring ways of weaning them off human flesh.
Romero has several targets in mind—even a brief Diary-warmed-over media "critique" (Bostick's PC diss playing more like an iPod ad than satire)—but Survival's major statement is a "plague o' both your houses" lament for internecine war and, more covertly, U.S. involvement in perpetual tribal conflicts overseas. Whether aimed at the general or the particular, the moral lands with a thud, and despite one or two moments of wit, including a fishing-for-zombies gag, Romero only hurts his cause with unintentionally silly imagery (a horseback-riding zombie) and severely lame plot twists (twins), none of it at all scary or gruesome.
Rating:2 out of 5 L's