A few months have passed since the viral outbreak from the first Zombie Diaries film wiped out 99.9% of the world’s population, turning its victims into slow and stumbling, but very dangerous, flesh-eating living dead.
A small group of Territorial Army types have made their base in a military compound and have received orders to make a break for the coast to regroup and board ships bound for Rotterdam, which is reportedly a safer place to be than the UK. However, before they can properly organise themselves some numb-nut rather stupidly leaves the gates of the compound open and hordes of ravenous undead blunder in, chowing down on the chumps in military fatigues.
A handful of TA bods survive by driving a handy army truck right out of Dodge City, after first rescuing a civilian (locked in one of their quarantine cells). The rest of the film follows this small, but resolute group on their seemingly impossible quest to get to the coast before the ships, to presumed safety, leave.
What sets World of the Dead or The Zombie Diaries 2 apart from many other low budget zombie movies is that the story sticks to a mostly linear narrative and the pace doesn’t really let up from the get-go so you don’t have much time to see the gaping cracks in the script – well at least not for long.
Whilst The Zombies Diaries had a kind of portmanteau structure with different groups of people telling their own individual stories through the use of video cameras, which were all tied together in the end, World of the Dead follows just one group of characters throughout and is consequently the stronger film for it. An obviously higher budget and better actors this time round also helps to sell the story too.
Whilst I’m a fan of zombie films I have to admit to having become a bit bored of this decaying sub-genre of late, with only a few films standing out from the putrefying crowd and making an impression on me, including the likes of Colin, Harold Goes Stiff and most recently Stakeland. It’s probably this latter film, essentially a zombie film disguised in vampire’s clothing, that World of the Dead most closely resembles. And that’s no bad thing since Stakeland is a thoroughly enjoy slice of survival hokum with undead thrown in as the cause of a world gone mad.
On the plus side, because we stay with a small group of fairly likeable characters throughout we get to know them a little and that helps us to care about what happens to them – always a good thing. The film also has a strong, although somewhat predictable ending, which paves the way for a third film; if this one makes enough money, I suspect.
On the negative side, the film suffers from a few too many zombie clichés, which tend to grate after you’ve seen as many zombie films as I have, and there are some pretty poor plot contrivances and just plain stupid moments. Take, for example, the gate to the military compound being accidentally left open near the beginning of the film – that was just dumb. Surely highly trained military types at a state of war wouldn’t leave a fucking massive gate open for their enemy to just wander through. Doh!
In another scene, later on, where some nasty bandit types are proving their bad dude credentials by raping a woman up against a wall, much of the power of the scene is significantly diminished by the fact that the victim is so obviously wearing a pair of ‘old school’ type gym pants throughout her ordeal, which detracts somewhat from the realism of the sequence. Maybe they should have just left that scene out completely as there’s another rape scene later in the movie, which has greater impact anyway.
All in all I would say that World of the Dead is a stronger film than its precursor and is a worthy addition to the ever-expanding cannon of low budget undead movies.
World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 is due for release on 27/6/11 and is being distributed by Metrodome.
Review by Justin Richards