Diary of the Dead

 
Gory zombie movie raises questions about media.
  • Review Date: February 13, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Drunken professor/war veteran; moral debates about journalists' duties; arguments about betrayal and loyalty; rich kid is untrustworthy; zombies eat everyone.

Violence

Extreme, gory violence throughout, including gunfire (zombies take many bullets to chests and limbs, and, most effectively, to their heads), explosions, crossbow shots (arrows go through bloody zombie heads), wrestling, and kicking. Repeated hectic battle and chase scenes as victims run and/or fight back. Zombies bite/rip open necks and eat flesh. A van slams into and decimates zombies. Girl shoots herself in the head (bloody effects and tearful friends). A hospital patient's entrails fall out (very bloody). Looting and frenzy in the street. Virtuous Amish farmer splits his own head -- and a zombie -- with his scythe. Zombie killed by pouring acid on its head (gross). Lengthy climax, with characters recording images of friends being attacked.

Sex

Girls dress in close-fitting, cleavage-revealing tops; brief shot of one young woman's breast. Brief kissing by couples. An actress complains that girls in monster movies fall and their "tits fall out" -- then later in the movie she does just that.

Language

Relentless language, particularly "f--k." Other obscenities include "s--t," "hell," "ass" (also with "hole"), "damn," and "bitch" (with "son of a").

Consumerism

MySpace.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Professor is an alcoholic and drinks from a flask and other liquor sources frequently; he also behaves drunkenly. A couple of students hole up in a mansion, boast of drinking, and appear high in an Internet video. Cigarette smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this zombie horror movie is full of bloody violence and gory effects. Expect fights, shooting, disembowelment, gruesome wounds, and flesh-eating -- in other words, all the hallmarks of George A. Romero zombie movies. There's a brief shot of a girl's bare breast, as well as some kissing and allusions to "tits." The professor character drinks almost nonstop, including while advising and rescuing his students. Lots of strong language, particularly "f--k" and "s--t." The hectic handheld camerawork may be a problem for some viewers.

What's the story?

DIARY OF THE DEAD follows the same basic plot of George Romero's earlier "living dead" movies: The dead wake up as flesh-eating zombies, and -- while doctors and scientists scratch their heads and the media show and exacerbate panic -- people with guns take over. This time, the action centers on a group of film students from the University of Pittsburgh who are in the middle of shooting their own horror movie when they learn that the nation has been overrun by a plague of zombies. As the illness spreads exponentially, the students' cameras capture scene after scene of chaos, bloody mayhem, and their own violent resistance. Counseled by their drunken, wise, and very weary professor, the students debate their duties as journalists as they make their way toward home in a Winnebago, hoping against hope that their families haven't been infected. But each new location brings more tragedy and horror.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The fact that first instance of zombification -- which is broadcast on TV and then uploaded to the net so it becomes "viral" -- involves a Latino family suggests that Romero is making an allusion to current questions of immigration and legality. As the monsters are soon revealed to be the very families the students seek to rejoin, the issue of who's "them" and who's "us" becomes very complicated. Smartly, the students' first-person cameras only compound the problem; some feel obligated to disseminate all available information, including terrible, uncensored imagery that constitutes a kind of "truth." Upset when they learn that cable and local news and the government weren't showing everything, the twentysomethings are moved to show the world what's really happened.

Romero's decision to marry an old plot and a new time is a sharp one. Part of what happens -- as in 1968's Night of the Living Dead -- is division along visible difference. The zombies change into monstrous, scabby, bloody, and slow-walking creatures; but before then, they're like us, and so carry with them emblems of their lives: golf sweaters, curlers, sneakers. At one point, a powerful, gun-toting tough guy admires film student Debra (Michelle Morgan), noting their similar hardiness and determination. This brief bit of bonding and mutual admiration goes a long way in a film so suffused with brutality and betrayal.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this movie fits in with Romero's other "living dead" films (the first came out in 1968). How does this one update the earlier movies' themes or ideas by using the Internet and digital technology to record the devastation? What is the movie saying about the media's role in large-scale disasters? What is the larger message here? How does having that message set Romero's movies apart from other zombie flicks?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 14, 2008
DVD release date:May 20, 2008
Cast:Josh Close, Michelle Morgan, Shawn Roberts
Director:George A. Romero
Studio:Weinstein Co.
Genre:Horror
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong horror violence and gore, and pervasive language.

This review of Diary of the Dead was written by

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Teen, 13 years old Written byGameaddict March 16, 2011
age 10+
 

Good movie

look im really 11 when i first saw this i was in a dark room i didnt have nightmares i mean seriously zombies arent scary and i like the end where they doubght there exsistance if they deserve to live that was very true.The worst was when that guy made the girl attemt suicide
Teen, 13 years old Written bycerealkiller189 January 16, 2012
age 10+
 

This is so f***ed up.

I watched it on DVD dimension extreme since missed it at theatre.my brother had to sleep in my mums room all night.the movie fails at scaring though,and the blood is really cheesy.the violence cuts away at the most graphic parts.
Teen, 17 years old Written bysadiv April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

awesome

I love this movie it was kinda scare when i saw it for the first time.this movie has a lot of zombies!!!!I HATED THE COMMERCIAL FOR THE 'NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD'!!! it is like five minutes long!!! it said the night of the living dead over 20 TIMES!!!!!

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