Land of the Dead (2005)

Rating: B-

Dir: George Romero
Star: Simon Baker, Asia Argento, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper

The most-anticipated horror film of 2005 has arrived and… s’alright. It’s okay, if no classic – really, after almost 20 years of anticipation, how could it live up to expectations? Part of the problem is that Day left humanity without hope, making the ongoing apparent survival – almost flourishing – of the species, more than somewhat implausible. For in this film, the zombies are kept safely at bay, and the people are divided into the haves, led by Kaufman (Hopper), and the have-nots. Bridging the gap are Cholo and Riley (Leguizamo and Baker), whose job is to go out beyond the city, into the zombies’ domain, to acquire supplies. Yet hell hath no fury like a minion scorned, and when Cholo doesn’t get to join the haves, he steals Dead Reckoning, an armoured truck, and threatens to turn its weapons on the city.

Though Riley is ordered to retrieve the vehicle, he has his own agenda – and just to add spice, the zombies are showing signs of teamwork and tool-use, traits that increase their threat ten-fold. And it’s with the zombies that Romero is most as home; one iconic image involving a river and a lot of zombies is undoubtedly the highlight of the film. When live people are on-screen, it’s much less interesting, and Riley is a bland hero of little consequence; the much-mentioned political subtext varies between amusing and obvious. The effects are top-notch, as you’d expect, and nice to see Savini in another cameo. Particularly when the film delivers on its title, this is solid enough, certainly – but worth waiting two decades for? Probably not.