DEAD RISING: WATCHTOWER (REVIEW)
Dir. Zach Lipovsky
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Based on the videogame that is now three games in and a number of add-ons and side stories, it’s easy to see how DEAD RISING has finally made the jump to the big screen. Surrounding itself around a zombie outbreak, a cure is already out there in the form of Zombrex however, when the zombie strain becomes immune, the army are called in to quarantine the remaining survivors of a small town.
‘Dead Rising’ doesn’t beat around the bush and opens up with Chase (Jesse Metcalfe) evading a horde of zombies and facing off with a creepy clown that sets the tone from the outset. This is a zombie film that sees its hero defending himself and a small band of survivors against the rotting dead in cool-as-fuck action. The best thing about the movie is that it knows what it is and does it well. Never trying to break new ground and despite it’s low production budget compared to the likes of the RESIDENT EVIL franchise, it never steps outside of what it needs to be. Where Resi series diluted the zombie apocalypse with 3D special effects and corporation bullshit, DEAD RISING throws it’s hero on top of a car surrounded by the undead and delivers exactly what it sets out to.
Taking from the videogames, there are enough references whether this is the combination of weapons or the Capcom t-shirt worn by Chase, it’s never too hard to see that this is a videogame adaptation done right.
Metcalfe holds his own but with a supporting cast of horror stars including Meghan Ory (DECOYS), Virginia Madsen (CANDYMAN) and Dennis Haysbert (SIN CITY 2) carry the film with an aspect of THE WALKING DEAD but better. The drama that can be built on this film could see the start of a new franchise. Director Zach Lipovsky manages to bring enough blood and guts that many zombie movies seem to be missing of late but also brings a central bunch of characters who the audience can actually root for. With a two hour running time, it does feel lengthy at times and perhaps would work better in an episodic formula of an hour episode giving writer Tim Carter more time to deliver on the story that needs to continue. In an ideal world, I'd like to see WATCHTOWER become the feature length pilot for a series that could finally bring a rival to that other zombie TV show.
The only mis-fire is the introduction to a favourite of the game series, Frank West (played by Rob Riggle) who injects humour that feels somewhat out of place against the drama of the zombie action.
Interestingly, the film’s subtitle offers a continuation of events and much like the episodic formula of the game, could see a number of ways for the story to evolve and it’s certainly something we could do more of. Let’s hope chapter 2 is set in a mall!