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DAY OF THE DEAD: BLOODLINE (2018)
Directed by Hèctor Hernández Vicens
Written by Mark Tonderai, Lars Jacobson, based on a film by George A. Romero
Starring Johnathon Schaech, Sophie Skelton, Jeff Gum, Marcus Vanco, Lillian Blankenship, Ulyana Chan, Shari Watson, Atanas Srebrev, Mark Rhino Smith, Nick Loeb, Vladimir Mihailov, Nathan Cooper, Bashar Rahal, Brian Terrence, Cristina Serafini, Nadejda Ivanova, Teodora Duhovnikova, Terry Randall, George Morales, Rachel O’Meara, Lorina Kamburova, Luke Cousins, Debbie Sherman, Phyllis Spielman
DAY OF THE DEAD: BLOODLINE is the latest bastardization of remakes, reimaginings, prequels, and sequels buzzarding off of George A. Romero’s original zombie trilogy. Now, one might say George himself started the feeding frenzy with his lackluster follow-up trilogy, but at least those films tried to work in George’s social commentary and some better than usual effects. The latest DEAD films are simply using the names NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, DAWN OF THE DEAD, and DAY OF THE DEAD to cover up the fact that they are simply just another substandard set of zombie films.
DOTD: BLOODLINE begins with an outbreak scene set in a medical school as a group of up and coming doctors partying after their exams are attacked by the once dead occupants of the morgue. This virus spreads at a rapid rate and only a few of the doctors escape, but not before we get to the most interesting part of this film—the subplot of stalker Max (Jonathan Schaech) and the apple of his eye Dr. Zoe (Sophie Skelton). Zoe is one of the few doctors to escape the massacre, Max is bitten by a zombie and dies. Flash forward a rough period of time later and Zoe is one of the few doctors working in an underground military facility, looking for a cure for the zombie virus. Surrounded by meatheads who just want to blast the zombies to oblivion, Zoe wants to study and understand them in order to find a cure. When Zoe stumbles upon a zombified Max, she fights to keep him alive. Max’s creepy love for Zoe has survived inside his zombie brain and Zoe wants to find out why. Soon, when one bonehead mistake after another is made, all hell breaks loose, the military installation is breached, and the dead swarm the facility.
Things pretty much follow the skeleton set in the original DAY OF THE DEAD. You have a military installation as the setting. You have science types versus military types arguing between decimating the dead against studying them. And you have a doctor arguing for the life of one zombie who seems to be more sentient than most. The thing is all of those factors are the same and BLOODLINES really adds very little to the equation and gives the film very little justice for actually existing. The original explores these themes more effectively, with more panache, and in ways that are much more memorable and impactful.
That said, Schaech does a solid job as this film’s version of Bub and the switch from lab specimen to stalker does give the film a creepy vibe that turns out to be quite effective. The makeup used with Schaech as Max is a sort of undead Joker look that is chilling and his obsession with Zoe is developed in a way that definitely gets under your skin. Still, despite the power of this subplot, the rest of the film is subpar. Save Schaech, the acting is cringe-worthy all around and the directing is flat and uneventful. There’s a decent amount of gore, but without the performances, the subtext, and the sheer talent in front of and behind the camera, the gore just doesn’t pack the punch of the original.
Am I comparing this film to DAY OF THE DEAD too much? Tough shit. If you don’t want comparisons, don’t label your film DAY OF THE DEAD. As is, this film pales in comparison to the original. Skip this cheaply rehashed piece of unnecessary. Even though Schaech does offer up a solid performance, it’s not enough to garner a recommendation.