Less a fourth installment in his illustrious zombie series than a parallel-universe reboot, George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead depicts a modern-day outbreak of hungry undead through the prism of film student Jason Creed’s (Joshua Close) video camera. Comparisons to the 9/11-exploiting Cloverfield are inevitable but the more cogent analogy is with Brian DePalma’s Redacted, though Romero’s first-person aesthetic is tighter and his critique of the Iraq war (and the news media’s coverage of it) is significantly more astute. An introductory scene featuring Jason and his pals making a horror film in the woods as a senior class project nicely needles genre conventions, right down to the inclusion of a disaffected British professor less interested in grades than booze. Yet once news of paranormal phenomena begins circulating, Diary – which is presented as Jason’s film about the crisis (titled The Death of Death) – merges its meta-cinema concerns with allegorical commentary about the individual and collective toll of our current overseas campaign, the self-validating narcissism of our document-everything-and-upload-it-online culture, and the subjectivity (and unreliability) of the moving image. Unfortunately, that latter point isn’t allowed to trickle out of the action proper but is, instead, loudly and repetitively articulated, from Jason saying “The camera’s the thing!” to his girlfriend/editor Debra (the largely unbearable Michelle Morgan) twice claiming that if something isn’t photographed, it doesn’t exist. When married to his cast’s generally amateurish performances, Romero’s preference for making thematic arguments through awkward dialogue exposition – while somewhat true to the egomaniacal mode of confessional communication seen in everything from The Real World to the latest YouTube clip – threatens to undermine his stinging portrait of the media’s dwindling competence for transmitting truth. That it doesn’t is due in large part to Romero’s expert, guerilla-style HD craftsmanship, his knack for repeatedly generating and sustaining tension, and, ultimately, his versatile ability to deliver both a blisteringly pessimistic final image regarding humanity’s capacity for vileness in times of chaos, as well as a riotous (and strangely touching) sequence involving a bomb-throwing deaf Amish badass.