When George Romero died, he had long since ceased making relevant zombie flicks, but regardless of the low-budget films he created in the twilight of his life, his impact on cinema is undeniable. There have been many remakes of his work with varying degrees of success, in addition to attempts by Romero himself, like the 2008 film, Diary of the Dead, which attempted to revitalize his "Dead" franchise by adding a modern bend that didn't quite work out.
Now we have Day of the Dead: Bloodlines, which is a remake that also expands upon the original source material, and the film is one of the few Dead flicks that has nothing to do with Romero personally. The plot of the film is mostly the same as the original; a small group of military personnel and some survivalists dwell in an underground bunker as they seek to find a cure in a world overrun by zombies. This time around, the film focuses on Zoe, a student/doctor who has to fend off the advances of her creepy patient, Max. Max has something unique about his blood, which causes Zoe to take a special interest in him, but unfortunately, Max has also taken a special interest in her. He becomes obsessed with Zoe in a stalker/creepy sexual way, but Zoe is interested in his blood, not his advances. After she is sexually assaulted by Max and saved by a zombified patient, the film jumps to five years later. Zoe is now working in a remote military base while zombies eat the rest of the civilized world. As usual, they need a cure, and Zoe is the one who is set up to find it through her blood-work.
Unfortunately, unlike Romero's version of the flick, there is no real social commentary, no underlying premise to bolster this worn out formula. We've seen it all before, and you know it is just a matter of time before everything goes to hell and the remaining humans are running for their lives while they slip and slide through rivers of gore. That inevitability occurs when a still-infected Max basically waltzes into the compound, gets chained up for about two minutes, then gets free and starts hunting everyone down. And, of course, Max's blood may very well be the key to humanity's salvation.
There is some plot development that attempts to push the narrative forward and break some new ground, but the problem is, it's nothing new. The zombies are beginning to think for themselves, instead of just mindlessly chowing down on anything they come in contact with. You see evidence of this when Zoe flirts with zombie-Max in order to get the blood samples she needs, allowing him to lick her face and some other pretty cringey moments. A big problem with this film is that even though it's a gross-out zombie flick, there is still the pillar of sexual assault at the center of the film, first in the beginning, and then when Zoe has to acquiesce to zombie-Max's advances to get what she needs. It isn't a great plot point in the first place, but especially in today's climate of rampant sexual-harassment, it comes off as more than a little exploitative.
The rest of the film plays out about how you would expect; zombies get loose, they chew people's faces off in front of their hysterical, screaming friends, there's an overbearing military general who has no idea what he's doing, making foolish decisions that show he's the big man in charge as you wait for him to inevitably get his arm torn off, or his torso ripped into like a feeding trough. Zoe gets covered in blood and does heroic things, while the rest of the characters make amazing decisions like wandering off alone, checking on "that thing that needs to get checked on", and generally just ignoring all common sense while they get picked off one by one. The film is kind of a slasher picture more than a zombie film for big chunks, with characters shining flashlights and being stalked by a sentient zombie. By the time the end rolls around, you feel that the film is just checking off boxes. This is a remake that didn't need to be made, and instead of bringing the franchise back to prominence, it just tarnishes Romero's original.