2015 / Director. Zach Lipovsky.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I am growing weary of zombie movies. They saturate the horror world and have become so common that all of the good ones have begun to blend in. DEAD RISING: WATCHTOWER is based on the popular Capcom video game series and follows a long tradition of single-player game adaptations. I am not a gamer, however, and so I am not able to draw any comparisons. That could be to my advantage or disadvantage, depending on your perspective, but whatever the case I am a horror fan and this is just another zombie movie as far as I'm concerned.
The basic premise is that a small city is locked in a quarantine zone following a zombie outbreak. The infected have become immune to a government vaccine and the healthy survivors are unable to escape the heavily armed borders. Jesse Metcalf plays a video journalist caught inside the contagion zone and with the help of three women he must fend off the deadites with whatever inventive weapons he can create. The result is a CGI blood splattered action movie with a lot of style and very little substance.
From its opening scenes DEAD RISING: WATCHTOWER boasts an impressive production. The look of the film is sharp and very polished and does, indeed, represent the atmosphere of a video game. Perhaps the makers over reached for a gaming connection because the abundance of digital gore and POV shots become irritating and unnecessary. Despite these gimmicky tropes the movie is shot really well and the action is thick and fast. Director Zach Lipovsky has an obvious flair for style and texture and he has created a viscerally appealing world for the viewer to spend time in. Unfortunately he doesn't have the same aptitude for drama and the film's quieter moments provide an opportunity for toilet breaks an coffee stops.
Jesse Metcalf has a strong on-screen presence and offers the film a solid lead. He is supported by a cast including Virginia Madsen, Dennis Haysbert, Meghan Ory and Keegan Connor Tracy. They're all decent enough but haven't been given much to work with, and so their performances all become run-of-the-mill stuff. Rob Riggle also makes an ongoing appearance as a media commentator and while his lines and performance is the stuff of gold, his character is distracting and side-tracks the overall narrative... and if you look closely enough you will see a fleeting cameo from the Soska Sisters.
DEAD RISING: WATCHTOWER is a great looking movie with a lot of potential. It wants to be a kick-ass entry into the zombie sub-genre but it is uninspired, inconsistent and far too long for its own good. Perhaps fans of the game will get more out of it than I did but as a stand-alone movie it falls short of its mark.