Usually a remake of a horror film isn’t going to have much upside. If it isn’t outright terrible, it’s at least uninspired. For some reason, however, remakes of classic George A. Romero horror films have come out better than most. Aside from all the subgenre films that wouldn’t have existed without Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, even the direct remakes have turned out pretty well. The Return of the Living Dead [not exactly remakes, but an offshoot] are a more raucous take for bloodthirsty fans; Tom Savini’s 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake is a solid and faithful one that shifts the social messages just enough to give it its own identity; Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead is a fun and slick and utterly modern; away from the zombie flicks, The Crazies is a taut, underseen little thriller.
Romero’s third zombie film, Day of the Dead, hasn’t yet had that quality updating, though it seems ripe for one. The medical bunker examination of the zombie breed speaks both to the meta analysis of modern horror and the post-apocalyptic grimness that has been re-popularized on The Walking Dead. Unfortunately, Day of the Dead: Bloodline isn’t the rightful flag bearer.
I haven’t seen Day of the Dead in years [I wasn’t much of a fan when I did see it] so I’m not sure how much of a direct re-telling Bloodline is. It feels completely uninspired, though. All of the bad horror movie trademarks are present: bad acting, cringe-worthy dialogue, plot contrivances, a lack of new ideas, nothing particularly compelling by the special effects or filmmaking.
It is likely that Bloodline will end up one of the worst films of the year. Knowing that, I feel a little better about the rest of the year knowing I've already had this experience.
What it’s about: Zoe was a promising medical student who survived the dawn of the zombie outbreak. Five years later she lives at a military base that houses surviving refugees and serves as an institution of studying the undead with the hopes of understanding their affliction and secure an antidote. With the base low on medical supplies and a new threat of a contagious pneumonia outbreak, Zoe leads a group to her old medical campus to collect medication that will keep the colony safe. Bad news: they unknowingly lead a zombie from Zoe’s past [her obsessive attempted rapist, in fact] back to their base. The good news: his unique genetic makeup might make him the key to crafting a cure for the zombie disease.
The movie starts with a medical class looking at a dead body, assigned to identify the C.O.D. Our bright leading lady identifies it was influenza with practically no evidence -- she can’t immediately identify the specific strain, however, which is incredibly embarrassing for her. Look, I’m not a medical professional but this is a ridiculous scene and also quite indicative of the level on writing on display throughout the film.
Bloodline is a horror movie where the zombies make more rational, intelligent, human-like decisions than the humans. Oh, I don’t think that was an intentional message.
Ah, but it is a movie where the humans are the *real* monsters … I haven’t seen that before!
As noted above, the main zombie villain in Bloodline is the attempted rapist psychopath obsessed with the main character. It is upsetting, to say the least. What’s worse, though, is the explanations for why he is special is so ill defined that it actually lessens the realism of the scientific genius that is happening around him. The ultimate cure for the zombie problem should be an interesting and exciting approach to a modern zombie film, but how can we follow an intellectual focus when the film around it is so very stupid?
The main zombie design is, however, pretty decent. The make-up is a bit muddy [thanks, Face Off]. I’m not sure if it is an effect or just performance, but the size of his mouth and how wide he can open it is quite off-putting. That’s as nice as I’ll be.
I’ve seen many bad horror movies in my life and can find myself enjoying myself while looking past terrible dialogue and performances as long as the genre elements deliver. Bloodline’s do not. The horror/action setpieces are all speed ramping and loud noises [seriously, can someone explain why the undead stop sounding like humans and more like a bear-lion mix?]. The gore effects are minimized by the camera effects.