I’m going to be honest… when I first saw the trailer for Day of the Dead: Bloodline, it looked promising. I know there have been a couple of attempts to resurrect George A. Romero’s 1985 classic. We had Day Of The Dead 2: Contagion and Day Of The Dead in 2008, both of which I haven’t seen due to obvious reasons. I enjoyed the remake of The Hills Have Eyes by Alexander Aja, Maniac once again by Aja and Dawn Of The Dead by Zac Synder. Even Marcus Nispels Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday The 13th remakes weren’t half bad. So how did Day of the Dead: Bloodline measure up?
Bloodline was directed by Héctor Hernàndez Vicens who also directed The Corpse Of Anna Fritz, a film I have heard good things about. I think when tackling material such as Day Of The Dead, it’s hard to really know what to do or where to go with it. Bloodline tried to remain somewhat true to the original but the location, performances and story just didn’t add up to a solid and entertaining whole.
It’s not big budget material, but I wouldn’t classify this film as a micro budget indie film, either. It definitely had the quality to get the job done if it was able to. They really twisted Bub the zombie’s character into a rather ludicrous and silly plot angle by having him as a would be rapist named Max (Johnathon Schaech: The Forsaken, Quarantine, Laid To Rest). While Schaech’s character is probably the most entertaining thing about Bloodline, the story arc is too coincidental and unbelievable overall.
The rest of the cast is just there, basically going through the motions. The character of Zoe, played by the beautiful Sophie Skelton, takes the role Lori Cardille did in the original, but is nowhere near as effective in her performance. We also have the absence of Richard Liberty’s character, Dr. Logan, who, in the original, added a demented and comical to a serious and straight laced movie. Jeff Gunn plays Miguel Salzar and tried to do Joe Pilato’s Rhodes in the original, but his lack of genuine mean demeanor does’t make the cut.
The original Day Of The Dead was such a dark and bleak movie and it offered no solution, just dead end survival and a whole lot of arguing between doctors and military. There were not many likable characters except maybe John (Terry Alexander) or the drunken McDermot (Jarlath Conroy), but there were a lot of straight out mean spirited characters like Steel (Gary Howard). Tom Savini’s make-up work will always shine as being some of the most gruesome he has ever splashed across the screen. Bloodline has a nice amount of gore and what is here is done well, but it doesn’t surpass or transcend to make the film stand out or be noteworthy enough.
Director Vicens tried to find a way to reinvent the movie but just couldn’t get there. When the Dawn Of The Dead remake came out, I was blown away by it. They did a good job on tightening up and changing things to a more fast paced, modern level than the 1978 original. Day Of The Dead has yet to see such a brilliant evolution and unfortunately, Bloodline wasn’t it.
The Bloodline story begins with Skelton’s character, medical student Zoe, who is doing research when a local creep named Max (Schaech) shows up to give his routine blood donation just to see her. Max is obviously an obsessed stalker, even carving her name into his arm. Zoe puts up with this blatant shit because Max’s blood is uniquely different than any other human specimen she has encountered. While at a celebration the med school throws in what looks like a dreary grey basement, Max comes back to attack Zoe. She is saved when a sudden outbreak of infected people start killing everyone. We then move forward to when the world has been taken over by the infected or “rotters” as they are called.
A group of military, doctors and families have holed up in a military bunker and made a life for themselves. Things unravel when some of the military team leave the compound to get specific medical supplies to help a young girl. Of course, the only place to obtain these supplies is at the school Zoe once practiced in, and when they return, they happen to pick up an unwanted guest. Even in his zombified state, Max recognizes Zoe and unknowingly hitches a ride back inside the compound. This storyline was just too much to swallow for me. Then Max starts stalking the corridors killing residents and so on. Once again, Zoe comes to the aid of her rapist-to-be because his blood is supposedly the cure to the disease, so Max is left to go on another rampage.
The make up work is well done. Max looks very cool and similar to the D.C. Universe villain, The Joker, in a way. But what they did with Bub was too far fetched. Max manages to outsmart the military on numerous instances by dodging them, stealing keys etc. It’s all too much. The story and pacing are all over the place. The performances from the cast are mediocre at best, and the conclusion they went with was a cop out, an easy and unrealistic wrap up. Bloodline is not exciting. It’s a confused mess, and to say they tried to do something different with the story would be false, because they actually tried to stick to the original and it just did not work.