George Romero is back. People have lined up to take shots at the two most recent installments in his “Dead” series, but “Survival of the Dead” really revived the franchise for me.
While it lacks the grittiness of the original three, it tells an interesting story and does it without turning the characters into cardboard cutouts. The “rogue army unit” angle has been done to dead (no pun intended) in zombie films, but mixing that with a good old Hatfields/McCoys-style feud really adds an interesting layer to the film.
A lot of the pap and silliness of “Diary of the Dead” and “Land of the Dead” arr gone. We again have a serious zombie film, but Romero masterfully leaves some wiggle room for zombie “sympathizers” – an angle that’s been tried before, but I’ve never seen work.
The ending of the film was a real rollercoaster. Romero plays with the viewer, teasing with a sickly sweet “love triumphs over all” ending and then pulls the rug out…sort of. The pleasant surprise there makes up for the hint of cheesiness in the final shot – which was a bit heavy-handed.
If you were disillusioned after “Diary of the Dead”, don’t let that stop you. This is a real zombie movie.