What is the purpose of a remake, beyond milking an established work for more money? More often than not, you are better off just watching the original. There are exceptions, of course. David Cronenberg’s The Fly is, in many ways, superior to the original. It pulled this off by taking the general premise from a schlocky 1950s B-Horror movie and making it its own terrifying thing. It allowed itself to stray in such a way that it was its own movie. That’s not the case with the latest remake of a George A. Romero movie—Day of the Dead: Bloodline.
It must be noted that I love Romero’s …of the Dead franchise. (Well, the first three at least. The latter three have some merit, but never reach the greatness that preceded them.) What has always set the Romero zombie movies apart from the others is that his movies are never actually about zombies. This is a big part of why remakes of his films always seem to miss the boat. Day of the Dead wasn’t about zombies, it was about brains vs brawn and the threat of military rule when order breaks down. Bloodline, however, is about… zombies bad? I guess? It’s hard to tell if it was about anything because the movie was such a mess.
Let’s start at the beginning. The movie opens with a scene of people being savaged by fast zombies. That’s right, it’s another Romero-remake where they ditch his slow-moving stiff zombies with fast, Hulk-strength zombies. Did I mention they roar like lions? Yeah, they make monster noises. Why? Because clearly that’s more terrifying than a hoard of mostly silent, braindead ghouls who look like people you used to know. I would say that was the actual thought process used by the studio that made this, but I’m pretty sure this movie was made by chatbots.
After some carnage and a woman being devoured by a zombie while she casually rode her bicycle through the burning wreckage around her, the movie then flashes back four years. (Do we really need a flash back so soon? Nothing has even been established other than the existence of zombies, which was already established in the poster.) Here we meet our protagonist, Zoe, examining a corpse in the morgue with her class. Her classmates are a bunch of chucklefucks, whereas she’s a machine that can’t deliver her lines in a way that sounds human. After she fails to determine what type of flu virus killed the patient just by looking at his bloated remains, her teacher informs her that she’s not even being graded. Great. What’s the purpose of this scene again? Oh right, to show us who the first zombie is going to be. That bloated corpse. He’s the zombie. Is this a spoiler? Who cares? Besides, I didn’t even need to harness the power of my roommate’s cursed couch to predict it.
Zoe is then invited to a party, but she doesn’t go. Instead she goes to a lab to look at slides under a microscope. That’s what science people do, right? Her professor then tells her to draw blood from a sex pervert named Max. Despite trying to sexually assault Zoe on multiple occasions, and despite carving her name into his arm, and despite having an emo hairdo even though he’s in his late forties, her professor still makes her take his blood samples all alone because he has good antibodies. You may be asking, “Why does Zoe have to do it, and why does she have to do it alone?” Well, the answer to that is that neither the movie nor this reviewer cares enough to even come up with a guess. When Max licks her and tries to push things even further, one of Zoe’s chucklefuck friends comes in and saves her. Oh thank God.
While everyone is at a party, which is being held in what appears to be the same set as the lab sequence, Zoe heads to the morgue for some reason. There,
Bub Max sneaks up and tries to rape her. But wait! That corpse from earlier? HE’S A ZOMBIE NOW! I never would have predicted that! Oh wait. I did a few paragraphs ago. Take that evil couch! I don’t need you anymore!
Since zombies apparently have some sense of morality, the bloated mass of gray grease paint and liquid latex attacks Max, saving Zoe. He then realizes he’s a zombie and chases after her, following her to the party where she screams what I assume were words. The zombie starts eating the chucklefucks, and then the professor walks in. But now she’s a zombie too. (OHHHHH MYYYYY GOOOOOOOOOOOD!) When did this happen and how? It doesn’t matter. All of Zoe’s friends die and she escapes. The title card drops over ten minutes into the film, and we flash forward five years.
Confused by the timeline yet? I sure am. So the zombie outbreak occurred four years before the city in the beginning was overrun with zombies, and yet there were still people just casually riding their bicycles the wrong way down a sidewalk with no helmet? I thought these were fast zombies! (HEY-YO!!!)
We now go to the military bunker where Zoe now presides. Why is she there? She’s doing science things, of course! What science things? Uh, something to do with medicine, I guess. In the original movie, it’s clearly established that the bunker was a scientific effort to find a way to mitigate the zombie outbreak. The military was there to provide them with zombies to study, and to provide protection. (Well, until order broke down and the military seized control of the operation.) In this new movie, it’s unclear why anybody is there. There are families there for some reason, yet their parents aren’t portrayed as soldiers or scientists. Maybe this is like a post-apocalypse YMCA? Only Criswell knows for sure.
In the bunker is a sick little girl. Is she turning into a zombie? Based on the milk of magnesia that Zoe gives her, she might just have some indigestion.
For whatever reason, Zoe decides that she needs to make a supply run to her old college. You know, to save that little girl who by no means appears to be ill in any way. They didn’t even paint dark circles around her eyes or anything. In fact, they show her playing with another child until Zoe comes in and tells her to get her ass in bed. Maybe this is actually a case of Munchausen by Proxy. No. That might actually make this movie interesting.
The expedition takes two Humvees to her old school—one vehicle for Zoe and her long-haired boyfriend, and the other for the entirety of the rest of the crew. One breaks down on the way causing them to pull over and yell at the mechanic while she stares at the engine and delivers wooden dialogue. Zombies strike, because of course they do, but nothing of consequence happens. At the school, Zoe and company steal a bunch of medicine that would have expired years ago. You know, to save this little girl who is totally sick. Zoe breaks from the pack to steal more stuff from her old workstation, including some old photographs. Will these come into play later? Nope. This scene exists so that Zombie
Bub Max can creep on her some more. She runs, zombies kill a soldier who was a total dick anyway, and they escape. BUT WAIT! Zombie Bub Max hitched himself under one of the Humvees!
Cut to kids playing with a ball outside of the bunker’s perimeter. Yes, the perimeter has an outdoor area with grass and plenty of space to play, but for no reason at all, they give the kids outside-the-fence recess time. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, right. Zombie
Bub Max kills a guard and sneaks into the bunker with absolutely no stealth whatsoever. At one point, he hides behind a golf cart. A soldier literally walks up to where Zombie Bub Max is crouched, somehow doesn’t see or smell the ghoul, and then walks off, allowing for Zombie Bub Max to crawl into the ventilation system.
Bub Max kills some more people—including the parents of the little girl who looks and behaves totally fine, but who Zoe insists is dying—tries to sexually assault Zoe again, but is then captured by the troops. (Support the troops.) She insists on keeping him alive because he hasn’t turned into a zombie. Despite being a zombie. She says something like, “He hasn’t decayed.” Honey, none of these zombies have decayed. If they had, they wouldn’t be running around with Hulk-strength. They would be slow moving masses who, by themselves, pose no significant risk, but in increasingly large hoards become a serious problem. Nevertheless, she needs him “alive” because she thinks she can use his blood(line) to create a zombie vaccine. Not a cure for zombiism, but more like a flu shot. Take this vaccine, and you won’t become a zombie if one bites you.
The problem is, of course, that vaccines take a long time to develop. Just kidding. The actual problem is that the zombies in this movie aren’t biting people like a kitty cat who is done being petted. No. These zombies are tearing out the throats and organs of their victims. If a vaccine can prevent one from dying from this, then sign me up! It’s sure to piss off Pinhead the next time I open up Lemarchand’s Box.
For whatever reason, Zoe needs other zombie samples in order to make her vaccine, so she and the soldiers concoct a stupid plan of attracting a huge swarm of zombies to the perimeter, opening the gate to let one in, capturing it, taking a sample, then killing it. While this is done, only one guard is left to secure the gate. Gee, this can’t possibly go wrong.
When it does go wrong, zombies eventually swarm the compound, Zombie
Bub Max lets himself out, more people die (including Lieutenant Miguel, who unlike Captain Henry Rhodes in the original, is just an asshole, and not a mentally unhinged crazy person drunk with power), and lots of fast camera movements occur. The movie ends with Zoe and company leaving the facility, allowing her to provide a Terminator-style Sarah Connor monologue.
The original movie had tension because it showed the breakdown of a small, isolated community. The military was taking more and more control of the operation, making the scientists feel more and more unsafe. This was why the scientists had to leave. They felt if they didn’t leave, the were going to be killed by the military. None of that is present in this movie. There is no internal divide within this community. The military is on Zoe’s side, with the exception of the asshole Lieutenant. Without any real tension or characters who feel even remotely like people, this remake just limps along (as a zombie should) until it hits the 90 minute runtime.
What have we learned?
- Even in the zombie apocalypse, managers will understaff food services and then ask why service is so slow.
- If a movie has “Bloodline” as a subtitle, stay far away.
- The film was shot in Bulgaria by a man who has only done Spanish-language films, with lead actors from Britain doing American accents. Perhaps that’s why every line of dialogue felt like it was being delivered by the late Stephen Hawking.
- If you see the name of your brother’s girlfriend carved into the arm of a zombie, it’s only logical to assume that she is having an affair with that zombie. (Yes, this is a real thing from the movie.)