Risen, (not to be confused with The Rizen and its sequel) begins with a meteor slamming into Earth near the town of Badger killing everyone. But it wasn’t the impact or shockwaves that caused their deaths, it was the airborne toxin it released.
Dr. Lauren Stone (Nicole Schalmo), former child prodigy and Nobel Prize winning exobiologist turned reclusive drunk finds the Army at her door with orders to bring her to Badger, by force if need be. Once on site Colonel Emmerich (Jack Campbell, Gabriel, The Pack) sends her and Dr. Santiago (Waata Richards) into the contaminated zone where Lauren finds a strange plant growing by the impact crater.
However, the worst is yet to come. One of the victims sits up while being autopsied, and several others reanimate as well. Is it The End of Days? Or just a reboot of Plan 9 From Outer Space?
Risen certainly sounds like it has all the makings of a good film. Unfortunately, writer/director Eddie Arya (The Navigator, The System) has come up with a film that is not only incredibly slow and talky, but it’s also incredibly stupid as well.
Risen is the kind of film where the protagonist does a web search and immediately finds vital evidence that everyone else missed. But also forgets to mention an important discovery, the plant at the crater, to anyone so it goes unnoticed until it suddenly grows hundreds of feet tall. And, most inane of all, Lauren gets a call from her therapist telling her she’s turning her into her parole officer for missing scheduled sessions.
But it’s the endless talk that really sinks Risen. We get people talking about what to do with the resurrected townsfolk. People talking to them trying to communicate with them. Lauren’s estranged father (Ken Welsh) reemerging apparently just to say hello.
As for the risen themselves, they just sit there staring. When one of them is finally taken to the alien plant we find out they’re possessed by aliens from a dying world, hostile aliens of course. How do we find out? He tells us. He also tells us they were contacted and told to come here by a human named SuperNova24. Apparently, internet trolls got bored with just spreading fake news about vaccines and elections and decided to really up their game.
Then uses his telepathic powers to make one of the scientists unzip their hazmat suit before using them on the soldiers to make them kill each other. He also creates a shield to block drone and missile attacks.
This might have been acceptable at the thirty or even forty-five-minute mark. But it takes seventy-five of Risen’s hundred and ten minutes to get to this point and for something to actually happen. At this point the film goes off on seemingly another tangent about Lauren’s childhood traumas.
It doesn’t help that Risen isn’t even competent on a technical level. I’ve seen better green screen work in student films. In several shots, it’s obvious the background is a static, unmoving painting. Maybe flying the Australian cast to the US to film wasn’t in the budget, but surely they would have been better off trying to find somewhere down under to pass off as America instead of this. Or better yet, just set it in Australia to begin with.
I wish I could say Risen at least ends on a solid note but it doesn’t. It ends with an overlong flashback that leads to an ending most of the audience will have already figured out. If you want an Australian alien invasion film, Occupation, its sequel Occupation: Rainfall or even Australiens are better choices.
Risen is available On-Demand by Vertical Entertainment. You can check their website for more information.