Published Sep 23, 2009As evidenced by the oxymoron title, long-standing zombie guru George Romero is taking himself less seriously than ever, and wants everyone to know it.
Once again focusing on a band of rogue soldiers in the wake of a worldwide zombie apocalypse, this time the grunts run afoul of a decades-long feud between two bitter Irish sods: O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) and Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick). Muldoon believes the zombies can be kept alive and trained to eat something other than human flesh, while O'Flynn keeps the brutal zombie slaughter train chugging along.
When Muldoon forcibly banishes O'Flynn from their Plum Island home, he joins forces with the brigade of soldier goons (and an admittedly goofy teen played by Devon Bostick) to reclaim the East Coast island as a safe haven from the zombie threat. Add in secret twin sisters and hilariously unnecessary lesbian subtext and suddenly the tired zombie franchise is limping to life again.
There is an air of playful apathy about the whole enterprise, with standard conversations interrupted by gruesome zombie attacks, only to be neutralized with nary a raised eyebrow much of the time. It's as if even the characters agree with the audience about the tiredness of the zombies, as if they were more an inconvenience than a threat.
This may all sound like a big knock but it actually works to the film's advantage ― this relaxation gives each scene a new dimension of fun, especially with the faceless cast ensuring we never know who will get eaten next.
Survival of the Dead is certainly not essential viewing, not even for zombie aficionados, but those with modest expectations for gory fun will certainly be satisfied. (E1)