Military experiments have led to some incredible discoveries over the years, as well as some truly horrifying ones. If you watch films like OUTPOST, SHOCK WAVES, or even UNIVERSAL SOLDIER or Matt Mitchell’s, (GANGSTERS, GUNS, AND ZOMBIES), new film, THE RIZEN you know that some of the said experiments are shocking beyond their ability to merely kill.
It’s 1955 and a woman is being dragged down a bloody hallway by a human looking creature with a bandaged head. When she comes to, rather than screaming like a cliché, she proceeds to beat it into a bloody mess. This is Frances, (Laura Swift IT NEVER SLEEPS), she is our heroine, she also has amnesia. She links up with Professor Richard Baughman, (Christopher Tajah M.L.E.), and Briggs, (Patrick Knowles PELICAN BLOOD), a soldier in handcuffs. Like Frances, they don’t remember who they are, or what is going on.
However, they do know that they must avoid the creatures that are stalking them through the dark underground tunnels. Their memories slowly begin to return, leaving them horrified to learn what it is that they’re a part of.
THE RIZEN plays out like an old-school video game, the original DOOM in particular, with its dark twisty corridors and the core of its plot. There are also elements of Lovecraft, EVENT HORIZON, RESIDENT EVIL and even a bit of CAPTAIN AMERICA mixed in. It’s told as much in flashback as in current time, which is confusing at points given the very limited number of similar-looking sets. Still, it all does make sense by the film’s ending. And what an ending it is, featuring the first R’lyehian subtitles in cinematic history.
Unlike many films of its type, THE RIZEN doesn’t resort to Nazi or Soviet experiments. In fact, NATO is responsible for the mayhem here. Not for any political point it seems, but more likely to avoid the expense of casting actors without pronounced British accents. And there we have the film’s biggest problem; it’s budget. It tries to do way too much on way too small of a budget and it shows. There are some truly bad effects; both visual and sound. The creatures we see at the end are certainly well designed, but their execution ruins them. This film really needed more money or a smaller scope. A sequel has already been announced. Hopefully, it’s better funded than the original film.
If you don’t mind dealing with the shoddy effects, THE RIZEN has some great ideas and well-done fight scenes. Those who are critical of weak effects may want to pass on this one though.
Uncork’d Entertainment releases THE RIZEN on VOD January 2nd.