DVD In Review: “Die-ner (Get it?)”

  • “Die-ner (Get it?)” – A New way to Serve the Zombie Fanbase (I’m not funny)
  • “Die-ner (Get it?)” is a new low-budget zombie film.  It’s advertised by its distributor, OSIRIS Entertainment, as:
  • “Stop in and get a bite!

Ken (Josh Grote) is a wandering and unassuming serial killer who enters a forsaken and empty diner during the graveyard shift.  After a long conversation with the diner’s lone waitress Rose, (Maria Olsen) Ken kills her and promptly delivers the same fate to the diner’s cook Fred (Jorge Montalvo).  As Ken cleans up the bloody mess and deposits Rose and Fred in the walk-in freezer, company arrives.  A young, unhappy married couple Rob (Parker Quinn) and Kathy (Liesel Kopp) stop by the diner only to be followed by the arrival of Sheriff Duke Purdett (Larry Purtell).

Ken now finds himself in the middle of a rousing game of cat and mouse which he manages well until the unthinkable happens.  Back from the dead, Rose and Fred emerge from the freezer and start walking around!  Once an unflappable serial killer, Ken now holds the young couple and wounded sheriff captive, trying frantically to escape the zombie predators!

‘DIEner …get it?’  is a zany, horror-filled escapade and wild zombie invasion!”

In short, a serial killer kills two people and they come back as zombies.

That’s right; this movie examines what happens when the victims of a serial killer come back as zombies.  Awesome.

Now to be clear, this film doesn’t just feature a serial killer; the serial killer is the protagonist.  The first character we meet is not only the killer’s first victim, but we meet her from his perspective.  This is what stood out to me the most about this film.  There have been so many Zombie stories made that the genre seems to be suffocated by predictability and clichés.  By making the protagonist of the film a serial killer, as opposed to someone that can stand in for the average person, Patrick Horvath (the film’s writer and director) is reminding the viewer that not everyone would react to emergence of zombies in the same way.  While the average person may become terrified by zombies, and while some may find themselves questioning their belief in the supernatural, there are some that maybe fascinated or even happy that the dead are walking amongst us.

Militia survivalist groups may view the appearance of zombies as vindication for their beliefs.  And as in “Die-ner (Get it?),” serial killers, like Ken, may find themselves fascinated by the idea of victims that never die, or intrigued by the notion of finding new ways to permanently kill this new bred of humanity.

Now before I go any further, I should answer the standard questions some of you have about low-budget films.

First, how low is the budget?  The budget is clearly small.  If this film was about UFOs, you’d see the strings holding the spaceships.  However, the budget does little harm to the delivery of the story.  After all, the lack of special effects may hurt the visual presentation of a film, but a strong story can overcome visual barriers; something that this film successfully does.

Second, do the zombies look like zombies, or people dressed up for Halloween?  This is a bit hit and miss.  The main zombies are actually done quite well.  However, a mass of zombies do appear at the end, and (as in all films) the more zombies there are, the less quality make up artists are able to achieve.  However, I find this to be a minor problem being that to my knowledge, no one actually knows what a zombie looks like.

Finally, how is the quality of acting?  Given that Horvath was on a small budget and filmed this entire movie in less than two weeks, the actors he got did a great job.  You should know that for me, quality acting isn’t about price; it’s about the time an actor can invest in understanding a script and a character.  (They also all oddly look like more famous and established actors, but I digress…)

As already mentioned, this film’s protagonist is a serial killer named Ken (played by Josh Grote).  What I love about this character is that he has a “Dexter” quality that makes him both terrifying and nihilistically hilarious.

On top of this, it seems that the zombie-film genre is constantly trying to out gore itself.  While there’s nothing wrong with gore in general, I don’t think it has to be a significant portion of every film.  Besides, I know I have grown to find dismemberment and other forms of mutilation to be cliché because they appear in so many films. “Die-ner (Get it?)” has some elements of gore, but overall, focuses on creating a suspenseful atmosphere.

I also get the sense that everyone who worked on this project genuinely loved the experience.  I know this is a minor and totally subjective point, but there’s something about watching a film in which everyone who produced it was emotionally invested in its success that makes the movie more endearing to me.

The affection for this project that comes through in the movie leads me to also mention that this is a film all aspiring film makers need to watch.  Face it, if you want to make films you will most likely never have the budget to do the film of your dreams, but that is not an excuse to produce a terrible story.  This film mostly takes place in one building, and Horvath makes it work because he and his crew understood that what one lacks in CGI funds, one has to make up for with intelligence and plot.  Luckily for zombie fans, Horvath was able to use what little he had to make a compelling, introspective and, at times, claustrophobic movie that shows that zombie films maybe saturated with mundane narratives, but they can be resurrected by individuals willing to challenge conventions of the genre.

Overall, what I liked most about “Die-ner (Get it?)” is that what it lacked in shine, it made up for with heart and intelligence.  This isn’t a movie that tries to kill time with minutes of gunshots and chainsaw massacres.  Instead, “Die-ner (Get it?)” attempts and succeeds at bringing suspense back to this horror genre.

So if you’re someone who’s interested in making films or simply has some time to waste, watching “Die-ner (Get it?)” is a fun way to go.

“Die-ner (Get it?)” can be purchased at these websites -

Osiris Entertainment:

http://www.osirisent.com/details.php?products_id=148&categories_id

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/DIEner-get-Joshua-Grote/dp/B003P5JYOA/ref=sr_1_3?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285147081&sr=8-3

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