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Review: Zombie culture fizzles out in 'Day of the Dead: Bloodline'

Posted Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 11:37 AM Central

by John Couture

I get it. Zombies are huge right now. Thanks to the rampant popularity of The Walking Dead, I would argue that zombie culture hit its peak in the last couple of years and not during the 1980s heyday of George A. Romero.

Often cited as the "Zombie King," it was Romero's series of satirical films about the dead rising to feast on the living that paved the way for our current obsession with zombies. And make no doubt, it is an obsession. My two young children are well-versed in zombie culture despite our best efforts to shield them from it. It is so pervasive that the zombie idea has permeated all aspects of popular culture.

Given all this, it's not surprising that people are interested in both continuing the series created by Romero as well as remaking the original films. Day of the Dead: Bloodline is technically a remake of the 1985 classic film Day of the Dead.

As an homage, I get it, but at the same time, part of me is happy that Romero didn't live long enough to see this finished film. It's not as campy and sad as the 2008 remake Day of the Dead: The Need to Feed, but it is an equal disservice to the original film.

Sure, part of the mystique of the original film may be due to its enduring legacy in the zombie culture, but it only exasperates the problems in these modern films by comparison. The problem with trying to recreate something from the past is that it is inherently contaminated by the current trends in that culture. In other words, the biggest challenge that Day of the Dead: Bloodline faces is that it's not The Walking Dead and it's not World War Z.

Sure, the filmmakers can use that and wear it as a badge that their film is OG zombie, but the audience carries certain expectations into a zombie film and by failing to recognize this and address it, they do a disservice to the film. For me personally, the biggest gripe that I had with Day of the Dead: Bloodline is that eschews character development for zombie brutality.

The Walking Dead has proven that audiences want more than simply violence to go with their zombies. With no vested interested in the characters that are dying left and right, it is really hard to focus on the film. Once that focus is lost, it becomes almost impossible to connect with the audience.

That said, there are some high points when it comes to the zombie attacks and violence. If you're a classic zombie enthusiast, then you will appreciate the attention to detail that the filmmakers take in recreating the world of Tom Savini's special effects. They don't opt for the hyperrealism that you find in The Walking Dead and this does help to bridge this film with the original one.

But at the end of the day, the film just wasn't compelling enough to hold the audience's attention and that is the mark of death for these type of films. When you're rooting for the zombies to just finish off the humans so the credits will finally roll, then it's safe to say that you probably should just watch the original film instead.

Day of the Dead: Bloodline is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.