[REVIEW] Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2018)
What’s the worst that can happen? That is what I had said last night before renting the yet to be released remake of George A. Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD (1985). Deep down, I knew…I knew it wasn’t going to be good, and yet there I was, pushing select and paying $6 despite my better judgement. I try to be fair. I know I am very particular about zombie movies. Deep prejudices, you might say. Being a Romero-purist makes it really hard to get into anything other than Romero. I understand that the late great grandfather of the zombie genre wasn’t perfect, we need only look at Survival of the Dead to realize that, but still…there has to be something. Story. Acting. Gore. The trifecta, no, the algorithm to making a solid zombie movie. So, did Day of the Dead: Bloodline make the cut?
Before we digest, here’s one of those sweet IMDb synopsis:
“A small group of military personnel and survivalists dwell in an underground bunker as they seek to find a cure in a world overrun by zombies.”
First off, this synopsis is total and utter rubbish. This makes it sound more like the original Day of the Dead, which of course it’s not. They definitely borrowed some pieces, but the puzzle didn’t turn out to be the same image, if you get my meaning. The original Romero classic was a story about a group of military personnel and scientists who were intended to be humanities last hope…they were actively searching for something, a cure, a weapon, something only to realize there was nothing they could do as they cracked under some horrendously and wonderfully timed and placed pressure. THIS new Day of the Dead…well…it didn’t go exactly like that.
Day of the Dead: Bloodline instead focuses on med student Zoe Parker (played by Sophie Skelton) and more or less her story from tenacious student to survivor. Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? The movie opens at what we can only assume to be the start of the zombie apocalypse. People are getting eaten. And oddly enough, while getting eaten several of them are exploding…yup…you’ll see and understand (assuming you watch this). And we get a glimpse at our protagonist running full sprint down a street, shirt undone, etc. etc. From here, the movie rewinds by 4 hours…why? My only guess is that the director thought the movie ought to open with a bunch of violence and gore. Okay, i can get there, though i disagree that every story needs to start that way, but okay…sure…but why only rewind 4 hours?
4 hours before the end of the world, Zoe was doing her thang as a medical student, getting really down on herself for not getting part of a symptom right during a class. As she seemed to be surrounded by moronic fellow classmates who’s best guess at the cause of death was syphilis, i don’t understand why Zoe was so down on herself. Was she suppose to? Did she have a past history with the disease? Nothing is really explained nor hinted at. From here she goes and works on random science stuff in the lab and is soon approached by her teacher who asks her to take a blood sample from a donor who happens to have a really high white blood cell count or something. The donors name is Max and he’s got a little crush on Zoe…to the extreme of craving her name into his arm.
Here is where we get into some really interesting aspects of the movie. Max, played by Johnathon Schaech (one of the few veteran actors), was the best thing about this mess of a movie. He was creepy. And when he is finally revealed in all his zombie glory later in the film it gets even better. The dude as a giant mouth and it works fantastically in all the undead makeup. His crush with Zoe doesn’t end in undeath. Even as a zombie, when FIVE years later, Zoe returns to the hospital to pickup some meds and mementos, Max is still there…why? I haven’t the foggiest. But when he see’s his beloved Zoe, he follows her back to her place of residence by clinging to the bottom of one of the armored trucks she’s riding in. Odd behavior for a zombie, right? We’ll get there.
So, yes…it’s been 5 years since Zoe escaped the hospital and outran the zombie apocalypse. Don’t worry if you’ve missed a step or walked out to get a beer, the protagonist narrates these gaps of time for us, you know because we might get lost without it. Moving on…in those 5 years, Zoe joined up with some military run base of survivors. Its not underground, at all. And they are not actively looking for a cure. In fact, this small part is one of the only parts of the movie that feels real, as in this is something I can logically see happening in the face of an epidemic. There are kids and parents and soldiers and friends and family all working together, growing food, making runs for supplies, very down to earth. If not for the horrid acting, it would have made the movie shine.
Back on base, Max goes stealth mode and sneaks in. Yup. Undead zombie Max…ninja assassin. Look…I liked Land of the Dead and the exploration of evolving the zombie to a more thinking being, but there have to be limits. Even Big Daddy was still primitive and limited by his condition of being…well…a walking corpse. Here, Max had little to no limitations. The actor did an awesome job with what he was given, but still… (insert eye roll here). What this movie suffered most from is a lapse of forethought. Nothing was taken into consideration. Watch and you’ll see. Where were they? Shrugs. Why were they there? Shrugs. Why should we care? More shrugs. And of course, this movie suffered from poor acting. I love that they cast unknowns, but come on, did they have to pick from the island of misfit toys?
There are a lot of time lapses. Moments you’d think should be longer but are completed really quickly, such as finding a vaccine for becoming one of the undead. That’s right. The one aspect of the movie i found interesting, not a cure, but an shot you can take to avoid turning into a ghoul, is completed in shy under 30 secs. Cool. But that least show me a montage with some really awesome 80s glam rock, show me the riggers of stress and insanity of finding the answer, show me something! Nope, nada, zilch, all I get is watching Zoe talking to herself about how important it is for her to find the inoculation. With an $8 million budget, i do not understand why it couldn’t have been done better. Romero had next to nothing when he made Night of the Living Dead and it was a masterpiece. Perhaps the answer is in the statement itself, Romero had done it. And if that is so, well…we have truly entered a dark age for zombie movies.
My rating: 1.5 out of 5
Who doesn’t love a good story? From great works such as, All Quiet on the Western Front and Salem’s Lot, Thomas S. Flowers aspires to create his own fantastic worlds with memorable characters and haunted places. His stories range from Shakespearean gore to classic monsters, historic paranormal thrillers, and haunted soldiers. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, Thomas’s debut novel, Reinheit, was eventually published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, and FEAST. His veteran focused paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series (4 books and counting), filled with werewolves, Frankenstein-inspired monsters, cults, alter-dimensional insects, witches, the undead, and the worst monster of all, PTSD, are published with Limitless Publishing. Keep in touch at www.ThomasSFlowers.com.