Review: ‘Day of the Dead: Bloodline’ Lacks Romero’s Touch

Review: ‘Day of the Dead: Bloodline’ Lacks Romero’s Touch

Day of the Dead: Bloodline

Review by Daniel Rester

It took about one minute into Day of the Dead: Bloodline before I threw my arms up in the air for the first time during the viewing. Around that time a man is bitten by zombies, yet a blood cloud emerges from him as if he were shot by huge guns. Within the same scene, a worriless woman casually rolls by on her bicycle as people are screaming and bleeding around her. And that’s all before any plot kicks in.

Bloodline is the second remake of the late George A. Romero’s zombie classic from 1985 (the third film in his original “Dead Trilogy”). The first remake was released in 2008. I can’t personally judge that one as I never saw it, but it seems like I dodged a bullet given its reviews. Apparently no lessons were learned for this second remake attempt.

The film revolves around a medical student named Zoe (Sophie Skelton). She is nearly sexually assaulted by a creepy guy named Max (Johnathon Schaech) who has carved Zoe’s name into his arm. A zombie breakout then happens and we jump forward five years to Zoe hiding in a bunker with civilians and soldiers.

Circumstances lead Zoe and others to make a supply run to her old hospital, where a zombified Max hitches a sneaky ride back with them. Zoe then runs tests on him because he doesn’t seem to be a full-on “rotter” – as the people call them here. Of course things don’t go quite as planned.

This remake does take a few different story turns from the original, but it ultimately winds up at the same place in terms of the bunker location and the “smart zombie” (this one being called Max instead of Bub, and being far less interesting). Instead of showing slight intelligence in fun ways like in the original, this zombie is apparently an expert at doing parkour, snapping necks, pickpocketing people, holding little girls hostage, and more unbelievable things. It’s hard to buy to say the least when the zombie consistently acts smarter than the humans we’re supposed to care about.

Speaking of those humans, they are stock characters – or zombie meals – all around. The film tries to give a bit to Zoe in terms of development, but she’s mostly boring and Skelton’s acting ranges from mediocre to terrible. There is even some narration from Zoe where Skelton sounds like she is just reading flatly from the script. The other actors don’t do any better; the first half of the film consists of many moments where it seems as if the actors don’t fully remember their lines.

Hèctor Hernández Vicens, the director, doesn’t show much of a unique voice in terms of presenting the material, and he certainly misses the commentary Romero infused into the original. That said, Bloodline isn’t totally inept. It contains a few exciting action moments, decent practical effects, and fine music and sound design. I also enjoyed a nasty, effective bit involving a tongue lick. Plus its 90 minutes jet by pretty quickly, so at least it isn’t a slog.

Those things are not enough to make Bloodline stand out in the crowded zombie sub-genre, though. It is far from being memorably good and it doesn’t quite land in the so-bad-it’s-laughably-great memorable area. Instead it’s just another forgettable horror remake. Watch Romero’s classic instead.         

My Grade: D (on an F to A+ scale); 2.3/10 (on a 0 to 10 scale).

MPAA Rating: R (for bloody violence and gore, language and brief sexuality/nudity).

Day of the Dead: Bloodline moves quickly and has a few fun moments, but it's mostly just a terrible remake with poor writing and acting.
Written by
Daniel Rester is a writer for the We Live Film portion of We Live Entertainment. He is a Southern Oregon University alumnus and has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Communication (Film, Television, and Convergent Media) and Emerging Media and Digital Arts. He has been involved with writing and directing short films for years. Rester also won 2nd place in the Feature Screenplay Competition in the 2015 Oregon Film Awards for his screenplay "Emma Was Here," which is currently in post-production and will be Rester's feature directorial debut.

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