World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries occupies a strange space in the zombie canon. It lies directly between the hyper-realist shaky-cam style pioneered by 28 Days Later, but with the addition of the slow-walking zombies of the Living Dead series. Your opinion of this film would largely rest on your personal zombie preference, were this film anywhere near as vital or entertaining as either of the former films. Luckily this film is an exploitative black hole of negative space that neither enlightens nor entertains, and so it, inevitably, becomes moot what kind of zombies they use. It’s just that awful.
The problems with this film are many, but can be summarised easily. Firstly, the script is awful, using as it does dialogue that would work in a novel but that is completely unsuitable for being spoken out loud. At best, it’s laughably bad, at worst it’s just bland, soulless exposition. Most characters are just completely one-dimensional stormtroopers, only created to be inevitably eaten by zombies at some point in the tedious proceedings.
The found footage style, which is unbelievably clear and HD-looking for a DV camera, is used to poor effect and isn’t justified at any point in the film. There’s absolutely no reason given for recording the events of the film beyond the dull, shockless opening in which a man, a human man, actually says – during what they know is a potentially zombie-creating biological outbreak – ‘There’s a noise outside. I’d better go and see what’s going on. Bring the camera out, so we can have some light’. It’s clunky, boring, self-important but cheap and amateurish film-making at its absolute worst.
Perhaps the worst thing about this film, the lowest in a whole litany of troughs, is the horribly exploitative scenes of rape that pervade the whole sordid film. Rape is an obviously important subject that, in the right contexts, can be absolutely and justifiably be shown in film – Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible being the most famous example of this – but when the camera lingers sleazily on the body of the victim, it all feels extremely uncomfortable and makes for an extremely unpleasant watch. The rest of the film is so dull and anodyne that these horrible scenes seem even worse than they would normally be.
The whole thing adds up to a film that is both dull and sleazy. It’s not as scary as it needs to be, and watches like an amateurish attempt at an over-populated genre. AVOID.