Horrorible Review: “Dead Rising: Watchtower”

Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!

Dead Rising: Watchtower movie poster

Dead Rising: Watchtower

For a movie based on a popular Capcom computer game this film is, well, it’s not very good.  The concept is not new, as Resident Evil was a great success.  We might send the Dead Rising people a hint:  try making a good film.

A prologue featuring a great clown zombie is followed by a cutesy animated ad for a drug to stave off zombieism after a bite.  “Zombrex.  Stay human.”  Our hero, an intrepid (read: scumbag) independent reporter is on the scene of a post-outbreak FEZA operated recovery effort set in a pro-football dome crammed full of second-class refugees.  I’m surprised they didn’t name one of the main characters Katrina.  Of course all goes wrong shortly after Our Hero sees a cute girl, and he follows her into the city since she seems cool and resourceful and not least of all, cute. The rest of the movie mostly follows their exploits in the quarantined, zombie infested metropolis.

There are a lot of tv actors in this film.  I’m not saying all tv actors suck, but there does tend to be a lack of gravity in their zombie movie roles.  One I recognized from the original Star Gate: SG1, and a couple from Once Upon a Time, and one from Desperate Housewives and iZombie and The Unit (and a bunch of insurance commercials), and on and on.

Several things really bugged me beyond the tv actor convention, the slow action choreography, the sub-par FX, art direction and sound, and the pretentious camera work.  For one the plot is loose, not well paced, and confusing.  This must be why they REPLAYED THE PROLOGUE in the middle of the film.  Beyond that stunner I also want to know what the hell is the fascination with chainsaws?  If a horde of undead who want to gnaw your face off is coming, why pick a weapon that takes forever to chop off a head?  And if you know you have to kill the brain why do you insist time and again on sawing through a torso? Our Hero has an especially Low T score, as Dead Rising enthusiastically celebrates the stupid.  And you know how much I hate that in zombie fiction.  (It would be hard to rank the zombies in Liam’s equation, as they are slow moving and not terribly threatening, but they can use weapons.)

On the plus side, the filmmakers do have some knowledge of movie tradition.  I heard a Wilhelm Scream at one point.  And the clown zombie in the prologue would be great to show to one of your coulrophobic friends.  That guy looked frightening before getting chewed up. But it’s so obviously based on a computer game, with strict types of settings, found items, preternaturally acrobatic hero, and massive numbers of eEter eggs that my mouse hand began to cramp.  Dead Rising might make a decent drinking game, but I’m not willing to watch again to determine the parameters.

The filmmakers’ wholehearted embrace of an expansion of a video game over making even a half decent movie concerns me. The end of the film should have had a big, neon sign blinking over the actor’s head, screaming “LOOK FOR THE SEQUEL!”  Why should we bother with a sequel, I ask, if they can’t come up with something decent in the first place?

LINKS:

Dead Rising: Watchtower Official Trailer (2015) – Horror Movie HD

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