Survival of the Dead Review

Published 4 years ago by

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Screen Rant’s Rob Frappier Reviews Survival of the Dead

Survival of the Dead, the sixth film in George Romero’s “Dead” franchise, might be the director’s weirdest zombie movie yet. Mixing genres freely, Survival is at times a Western, a traditional splatter flick, and a Looney Tunes cartoon. Unfortunately, the result is a muddled film that lacks Romero’s trademark social satire and delivers few, if any, relatable characters.

Survival of the Dead takes place on the fictional Plum Island where two Irish families have been at war for decades (think Hatfields vs. McCoys, but with brogues). The O’Flynn clan, led by Patrick, believes that zombies should be killed immediately, no questions asked. The Muldoons, led by Seamus, think that Zombies should be kept alive in case a cure for their condition is ever found. Stuck between these feuding families is a band of AWOL National Guard soldiers (first seen in 2007′s Diary of the Dead) who only want to find a quiet place to ride out the zombie uprising in peace.

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I would describe the plot further, but there’s really nothing to say. A few conventional zombie cliches pop up (i.e. someone is bit, but hides it from the others), but the bulk of the movie consists of the O’Flynn and Muldoon patriarchs taking turns complaining about one another. There are also a few sub-plots involving the National Guard soldiers, but none of them merit particular attention and do little to add to the film’s overall enjoyment.

On the gore side, a number of excellent and creative zombie kills are sprinkled throughout the movie (a moment early on involving a fire extinguisher made me laugh out loud) and there are some great practical effects. Unfortunately, Romero goes a little overboard on CGI during the film, leading to far too many cheap-looking headshots.

Worse than the so-so CGI, however, is the fact that the film lacks any real sense of tension. I know that most people watch zombie movies for the gore, but shouldn’t there be some scares? Opening credits tell us that the zombies have only been walking among the living for a short period of time, yet the characters in Survival walk around brazenly, completely unafraid.

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As far as social commentary goes, I suppose if Survival of the Dead teaches us anything, it’s that zombies “die” easily, but old feelings die hard. The patriarchs of the Muldoon and O’Flynn clans are as single-minded as the zombie hordes that surround them. This doesn’t make them particularly likable or fun to watch, but it does serve to prove a point.

In theory, the way the characters refuse to come to any middle ground is meant to represent humanity’s inability to unite in face of a greater threat, be it climate change, global development, or, you know, zombies. Unfortunately, Romero’s characters are too underdeveloped to allow his indictment of primitive tribalism to strike a resonant chord.

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The 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead is and always will be Romero’s best film. It had a revolutionary impact on independent filmmaking and has had a strong influence on the horror genre for more than 40 years. Among Romero’s modern zombie films, I think 2005′s Land of the Dead is the most entertaining and conceptually satisfying. With Diary, and now Survival, however, it seems like Romero is more interested in playing around with ideas than in delivering quality films. Seeing as the man literally invented the zombie movie genre, of course, Romero has more than earned this right.

Bottom line: Survival of the Dead doesn’t show Romero at the top of his form, but it does deliver some laughs and a handful of unique zombie kills. I imagine genre purists will find enough in the film to justify watching it, though I have significant doubts on whether the film will catch on with casual audiences.

Zombie aficionados can watch Survival of the Dead in the comfort of their own homes today through video on demand, XBox Live, the Playstation Network, Vudu, and Amazon.com. Survival of the Dead hits theaters on May 28th.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

TAGS: survival of the dead

14 Comments

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  1. i think dawn of the dead was the best, land was just to stupid and annoying (wtf can zombies learn to use guns, even worse how do they know who to listen to/take orders from ?)

    these movie are only made for the gore, nothing else. a simple fact about zombie movies :D

    • Hello, you comment about zombies learning to use guns? Or something like that? Well do you remember in the original Day of the Dead where Bub tries to use a gun? Get my point? He didn’t learn to use a gun. When he was alive, not dead, he was in the military. Remember what the Doc said about pertaining all the skills a person had before they died? Or something like that. My point is this. A zombie does not to have someone teach them about using guns because they already know how to. I just wish that when people comment about something, back it up with some personal info before making a comment okay. People don’t know what they are talking about when they comment.

  2. you were too kind with this review. I hated this film immensely! The story was crap, the effects stupid and the acting sub par. a one would have been a fair review

  3. I'm so sick of this whole sub-genre of horror.I really don't understand that whole “zombie” thing anymore.Enough is enough already.

    The coolest and most original zombie “anything” that I've ever seen,was a CBS failed pilot of a zombie show that they were going to do called Babylon Fields.Technically,it really wasn't original,considering that it was based off of a French film,but it was about this small town where all of the dead came back to like and instead of them attacking people and trying to eat them,they just wanted to go home and go back to their old lives.

    There seemed to be a door for storylines that are completely original to the zombie genre,and I think if given a chance,it could've been pretty good.If anyone is interested,I think the pilot is still on Google video.

  4. I think you need to watch the original Day of the Dead because Romero touched on zombies being able to relearn skills they once had. One of the main zombie character was taught to use a gun and take orders from specific people.

  5. Am I the only one who likes it when films don’t have any particular ‘message’? For example, the environmentalist allegory in Avatar just annoyed me.

  6. Can’t wait until “World War Z” gets made!

  7. Land Of The Dead was entertaining, but pretty forgettable. I thought Diary Of The Dead was boring and overrated. Night and Dawn are classics, and Day Of The Dead has some flaws but is still underrated.

  8. survival of the dead looks like a movie that lacks any kind of horror and story behind it. i feel that george romero should retire making horror movies and start making comical movies instead.

  9. Again, Bub was not taught to use the gun. He was given the gun to see if he knew how to use it after he saluted one of the military guys. The only thing he was learning was not to bite the doctor because he was being rewarded with human flesh afterwards. Didn’t like Diary of the Dead and Land of the Dead lacked something. Hoping Survival will give us a little more than the previous 2.

  10. Shawn of the Dead, greatest zombie movie ever!! Nuf said.

  11. World War Z – Epic, big budget magnificence.
    Bring it on!

  12. I havent been the same since 28 Days later…I think the problem is for most people in the last decade zombies have evolved…and once any genre of movie evolves its hard to go back.

    • Yeah, 28DL was great but it was not really a zombie movie was it?
      Those infected by the rage virus were still very much alive and still vulnerable to injury, gunshots, starvation and whatever hurts us too.
      They were just enraged and (mostly) mentally uncontrolled .
      Zombies are actual un-dead, reanimated corpses that died from a bite or other kind of cross infection by whatever it is that makes a zombie a zombie and as such are not subject to injury, illness starvation and can only be stopped by destroying the brain or totally rendering the body unworkable, though decay through the passage of time would also cause the body to fail eventually.
      The most interesting thing is that a person already dead cannot be reanimated by a zombie and has to be living when bitten or otherwise infected in order to die and then rise again.
      Nor can a properly dead, brain destroyed zombie infect anyone after it’s death, though a dead, rage virus infected victim can infect again and again if exposure by the healthy to infected blood and other fluids has taken place.
      Still, can’t wait for 28 Months Later and World War Z to get made – Who cares about small technical differences?

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