Have It All (Desperately Seeking Santa, 2011)

Desperately_Seeking_Santa_PosterMeet Jennifer. She is a hard working executive who oversees the mall that she has worked at since she was 17. She is trying for a promotion within the company.  She also only sees Christmas through the lens of profits for the mall. This year to bring people in, she devises the plan to have a Sexy Santa.

On her way to work one day, she jumps to the front of the line for her coffee, and runs into conflict with David. Of course, she finds out later that David is in the competition for the Sexy Santa.  Against her wishes, the committee settles on David. At the same time, he is trying to save his father’s restaurant from being destroyed for a condo development.

The two slowly start to become smitten with each other as they spar.

This is…well, a pretty standard rom com. Two people meet and do not get along, but you know from moment one that they are going to fall in love. But they follow the formula pretty well.  I mean, it is TV movie level largely light entertainment.

The film hangs heavily on Laura Vandervoot and Nick Zano. Zano’s David is pretty much the perfect guy…he is kind, helpful and remarkably selfless.  Zano brings the boyish charm that fans of Legends of Tomorrow are likely to recognize. Vandervoot is given the harder role…she is supposed to be both a bit cold but sympathetic. A lot of this is done through small moments showing her love for the employees and shop owners in the mall. They do make an attractive couple.

Overall, Desperately Seeking Santa is a cute film that does try and have a bit of heart with it’s conflicts. It is not a deep dive, but it did entertain for the most part.

Found Footage of the Dead (Diary of the Dead, 2007)

diary_of_the_dead_posterEarlier I commented on how the Dead movies are kind of set in an “ever present now”.  Diary of the Dead kind of flips that on its head.  Diary of the dead is a found footage approach to Romero’s Dead World.  All told through footage from the cast of characters camera, it explores the early days of the zombie outbreak.  It jumps to the beginning, and the beginning is now.

The film starts out very strongly.  A young woman explains that this movie is compiled both from her boyfriend’s footage and footage from the internet.  The voiceover is spoken as we watch a news report being conducted in front of a crime scene.  As bodies are being loaded into an ambulance, the bodies begin to attack the paramedics.  It is a very effective scene followed by news shots covering the riots and looting.  We then move to a college film crew making a horror movie.  There is an argument regarding whether a monster is supposed to be slow moving or not (which becomes echoed in a far later scene).

The film follows the group as they travel in an RV to make their way to one of the film crew’s homes (he lives in a remote mansion).  They meet survivalists, farmers and National Guardsmen as they work towards their final destination.

One of the biggest changes to the traditional Romero formula is that the zombies in this film are much faster. They leap on people, jump out from behind doors and tackle people.  They are not as fast as Zak Snyder’s zombies from his Dawn of the Dead remake, but still, they are faster than his earlier films.  After a while, the film kind of meanders.  But it picks back up when they reach the mansion and everything gets even worse. The characters also get a bit frustrating, behaving in some questionable ways.  At one point, one guy films one of his friends being stalked by a zombie and really does not lift a finger to help her.

Overall, this is a decent film.  It is interesting that it turns it’s sympathies back towards humans, but it also mirrors the darkness of the original towards the end when we get scenes that are similar to the final moments of the original Night of the Living Dead, asking pretty much the same questions about humanity.

It helps that it is presented as a finished work rather than just a series of footage strung together.  This allows for there to be a stronger narrative structure.  While no competition for the original three films, this is an overall interesting entry.

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