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Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2017)

"Every day has its end"


A small group of military personnel and scientists hide in an underground bunker as they seek to find a cure in a world which has been overrun by zombies.


Just what the world needed: another re-imagining or unofficial sequel to a George A. Romero zombie film made by a bunch of amateurs. Day of the Dead: Bloodline follows in the same footsteps as Day of the Dead 2: Contagion and Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection as being unnecessary and unwanted attempts by filmmakers to cash-in on a successful franchise. You can stick a colon in your title all you like or add in a fancy subtitle but Day of the Dead: Bloodline is a shameless bootleg remake, sticking closely to the template of the original with the inclusion of a borderline psychotic army officer in charge, a captive zombie who is given a nickname, the military installation setting and an ending in which the zombies, or ‘rotters’ here, manage to find a way in. Unfortunately, because it follows the original so closely, it suffers even more in comparison than the horrible Day of the Dead from 2008 or the abysmal Day of the Dead 2: Contagion did.

Day of the Dead: Bloodline opens with the zombies already running amok in a city. And yes, they are the fast-moving, hyper-energetic modern-day zombies as opposed to the slow and shuffling monsters of the past. Before we’ve even got chance to settle down and establish anything about this timeline, we’re given a flashback to four hours earlier where our main character, a medical grad student, is still at college and learning the ropes. A few inconsequential sequences of attempted character development later, one of the corpses in the morgue turns into a zombie and all breaks loose on the college campus. Yet again, we don’t get chance to settle in this timeline before we’re moved into the future and even further on from the initial scenes. So within the opening fifteen minutes, we’ve already experienced three time periods and know nothing about the virus or what caused it, know little about the situation the characters are now in – heck, we have only met one character who comes close to resembling a protagonist. I’m already detached from the narrative before the main timeline has chance to begin.

Day of the Dead: Bloodline has a huge issue with its characters and the fact there’s no one given enough depth or characterisation to get behind. The script is terrible and literally everything that goes wrong is the fault of the lead character, Zoe. She’s only a medical grad student at the start of the film yet becomes humanity’s last scientific hope when the film fast forwards five years and she’s trying to develop a vaccine. It is not the fault of actress Sophie Skelton. She is lovely to look at and isn’t a bad actress, it’s just that her character is so unbelievably naïve and dumb. The world has changed for the worst, yet she still has these hair-brained schemes which end up killing off most of her colleagues. As she’s the only character who transcends all three timelines, she’s the only person we can even sort of relate to and by default at that. The rest of the characters are walking clichés, with few of them developed beyond a few lines of dialogue and slapped with the ‘eat me’ tag for later on in the film. If the writers wanted us to not care about anyone, then they did a great job. And when you don’t care about any of the characters, the film has lost you and it won’t get you back.

Ever since The Walking Dead turned zombies into a pop culture TV fad, it’s been difficult to find a zombie film which does something different or fresh. They’re all cut from the same cloth now, lacking originality and all scraping around the same four or five scenarios to eek out a story. Day of the Dead: Bloodline features the same situations as we’ve seen countless times before, with the production values of a TV movie to boot. There are plenty of predictable set pieces, with characters having engine trouble, searching through not-so-abandoned buildings, and dealing with loved ones who have become bitten, as well as the inevitable zombie massacre finale. Watching the whole thing unfold before my eyes made me realise the zombie film is even more formulaic than the slasher film is when the people behind the scenes don’t know what to do with the material. You can’t just string a collection of set pieces together without a decent script or likeable characters and expect the audience to be engaged in your product.

At least the zombie make-up looks good, although I’m bored of the snarling, growling zombies now and much preferred the silent shuffling ones from days of old. There’s no real menace to them here and the copious amounts of blood and gore on display, whilst certainly more impressive than I’d imagined, are all window dressing. The addition of Max, the super zombie who can think and act like a normal human, was unnecessary, especially when they turn him into some sort of wannabe zombie rapist.


Final Verdict

Make no mistake about it - Day of the Dead: Bloodline is dead on arrival. I’m growing a little irritated by ineffectual filmmakers butchering Romero’s original vision – what used to be powerful critiques of society hidden beneath the zombie apocalypse are now merely excuses for more blood and guts. Take away the name value the film is coasting on and you’re left with a really sub-standard zombie film which wouldn’t even make a good episode of The Walking Dead or Z-Nation.


Day of the Dead: Bloodline

Director(s): Hèctor Hernández Vicens

Writer(s): Mark Tonderai, Lars Jacobson, George A. Romero (based on the motion picture "Day of the Dead" by)

Actor(s): Sophie Skelton, Johnathon Schaech, Jeff Gum, Marcus Vanco, Lillian Blankenship, Ulyana Chan

Duration: 90 mins


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