REVIEW: Die-ner (… get it?)

I love movies that take place in one area and if that area happens to be a diner, it’s all the more pleasing. See, to me a diner is just so aesthetically pleasing that a multitude of things could happen in it… that it would still be interesting. Die-ner is one of those movies but there is a major downside to it. Die-ner (get it?) is about a couple, whom have recently become a little miffed by each other, that stumble into a late-night diner. Little do they know that their “waiter,” just moments before, walked into the diner and slaughtered the entire staff and stored them in the freezer. Things get a little uncomfortable when a local cop, who happens to be a regular, walks in and notices that everybody is missing. But wait, there’s more! The dead staff somehow comes back to life! Now, the couple, the serial killer and the cop must battle the undead before they lay chomp into their bodies. Die-ner had a great production, some good effects but the jokes fall flat and the performances were very awkward.

As I stated, the production of the movie was great. In fact, aside from the performances and awkward script, the entire execution of the movie was spot on. I couldn’t help but wonder if Quentin Tarantino was an inspiration for some of the action sequences if not the dialogue. The lighting was eerie, colorful and a little off-putting but that only made the setting feel like they were in some isolated area in the Twilight Zone. It just had that uncomfortable feel of despair, nightmarish scenery and total aloneness. The score for the movie was brilliant. It was slow, haunting but yet very calming at the same time… it was very interesting to see what drove their idea into having such a strange score. If there is one scene that screams QT, it would have to be the opening sequence and I know some might find it boring but I think it was the greatest part of the film. The slow build up, the in depth look at a character, the almost poetic killing of her and the cook and the music. All of it was just brilliantly executing.

With all that said, I feel as though I need to explain why this movie would come out average for me. I think the biggest problem this movie suffers from is the very calm, monotone, awkward performances. Unless there was a reason or theme that I am missing for why this is so, it just felt like the cast felt a little inept around each other. Because of this, the characters seemed to be out of place; shit is hitting the fan, zombies are eating people and coming in by the boatload and yet they talk normally or they act like there isn’t a rush. I would be screaming, panicking or at least hurrying to get things done. The humor, which mostly stems from our serial killer anti-hero, falls flat a lot of times because I’m assuming he’s attempting dry humor. Which, to the film’s defense… is very hard to do. Perhaps the actors are just beginning in their career or perhaps the director needs more practice… either way, this is no knock to the director or the actors. I’m merely stating some constructing criticism.

The zombies seem to be lifted from a lot of other zombie films; The Video Dead comes to mind. Here, once the dead turn into zombies they begin acting like you and me or in other words they try to be ‘normal.’ I feel like there is a lot to be said about zombies trying to be normal, however, midway into the film Die-ner seems to abandon this concept all together. Which was fine because it was only a matter of time before their hunger overthrows their normalcy. I enjoyed the makeup and the gore was pretty fun to see; I keep thinking about the first time a certain somebody gets his neck bitten into. I also like the fact that the film is very grim and doesn’t BS with happy endings. The last 10 or so minutes were pretty shocking to say the least.

Overall, this was an average movie. The production was great, the zombies were great but what brought it down was the acting and some of the dialogue. However, there is a silver lining to all of this. From what I saw on their official website, I have to admire the enthusiasm and the spirit of everybody. Die-ner may hold an average rating in my book but it’s a prime example of how dedicated indie directors are and how they are determined to get things done. To recap, I don’t want to make it sound like the actors or the director are incompetent but rather learn from a few iffy moments in the movie. Live and learn.

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About Rick Romanowski

Undead reviewer and owner of Paradise of Horror!