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June 16, 2018

Day of the Dead: Bloodline

by Franz Patrick


Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2018)
★ / ★★★★

There should be a rule for every remake or reimagining: strive to be better than the film from which the project is inspired by. Here is yet another zombie picture that goes on autopilot, devoid of any intrigue by the fifteen-minute mark. In the middle of all the flesh-bitings, arguments amongst survivors in an underground bunker, and long periods in which nothing of interest ever happens, I wondered how it received the green light to be made. A mediocre episode of the early seasons of “The Walking Dead” is better than this drivel, certainly better at establishing a specific mood and unhurried pacing.

If the dearth curiosity or intrigue doesn’t get under your skin eventually, the terrible dialogue ought to do the job. Without failure, notice that in just about every other scene someone must describe exactly what he or she is feeling or thinking. Couple this with the inexperience of some of the performers, it is deadly. As a result, we do not feel inclined to look more deeply into the characters. What is the point of it when their motivations are laid out for us like a welcoming mat? There is a way to write dialogue, especially in horror films, so that the viewers wish to know, to observe the various personalities like a hawk, to understand what makes them tick, to anticipate a potential betrayal when things do not feel quite right.

There is neither suspense nor thrills. Part of the issue is a lack of understanding regarding which type of editing and pacing should be utilized in order to maximize a sense of discombobulation. It is very quick to go for the jugular, so to speak, rather than taking its time to bait us, to allow us to consider whether a setup might be heading toward a false alarm or about to unfold into a genuinely horrifying experience. For some reason, it is shot like an action film just because there are guns in it. It comes across as confused regarding what type of movie it wishes to be.

Even in pictures like Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” and its high-quality sequel, sure there are guns and manic editing is employed at times, but there are variations in the way scenes play out. We get long stretches of silence where we cannot help but anticipate what is possibly hiding behind the shadows. Only because there are variation in setting, mood, and pacing, perhaps then that the best ten- to fifteen-minute section involves a trip outside of the bunker in order to acquire medicine for a little girl (Lillian Blankenship). Specifically, Zoe (Sophie Skelton), being trained as a physician prior to the virus outbreak, and others with military training (Marcus Vanco, Atanas Srebev, Mark Rhino Smith) must break into a medical facility despite the place being infested with zombies—referred to in the film as Rotters. This is not enough to elevate a material lacking freshness.

The dead may be on the run in “Day of the Dead: Bloodline,” directed by Hèctor Hernández Vicens, but it is potential audiences who should be running away from it. As someone who works in a lab, it got so boring at times that I couldn’t help but wonder about the brands of pipets, microscope slides, and centrifuges; whether the actors were holding laboratory equipments the right way, whether they were wearing personal protective equipment.

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