Dead Rising: Watchtower (2015)
Dead Rising: Watchtower (2015)
Director: Zach Lipovsky
Cast: Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory, Virginia Madsen
Synopsis: A group of people fight to survive in a zombie infested town.
According to IMDb, there has been a total of 71 zombie movies released in 2015 (up to 6th November), already fifteen more than were released in the whole of 2014. To stand out in such a saturated genre, a movie has to be something really special. Sadly, apart from a few genuinely inspired moments, Dead Rising: Watchtower has very little to distinguish it from the pack. Then again, it’s not too bad for a movie based upon a video game, and there are plenty of references to the game which might tickle its fans but with which the rest of us need not concern ourselves.
The story takes place in an America which has already overcome a couple of zombie outbreaks, and which is clearly prepared for the one that kicks off in East Mission, Oregon. A quarantine wall is quickly erected around the zombie hotspot, and supplies of the vaccine Zombrex is ferried in for victims still capable of being saved. Reporting directly from the quarantine zone, Hit Point reporter Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) and his camerawoman, Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy) witness first-hand how the Zombrex proves ineffective in stopping the victims’ transformation into full-blown zombies. While Jordan makes it out of the zone, Carter is trapped inside with Crystal (Meghan Ory), a bite victim who relies on black market supplies of Zombrex which curiously continue to be effective, Maggie (Virginia Madsen – Red Riding Hood), a mother in denial over having killed her own infected daughter, and a horde of freshly-minted zombies.
The idea of a contained outbreak rather than an apocalyptic one is quite a good one, and allows TV news broadcasts to contextualise the unfolding action throughout the movie instead of just during its first phase. In fact, these news broadcasts provide some of Dead Rising’s more amusing scenes as increasingly exasperated news anchor, Susan (Carrie Genzel – 88 Minutes) locks horns with irreverently gung-ho zombie expert Frank West (Rob Riggle – 21 Jump Street). Every now and then Dead Rising throws up an outstanding idea which serves to frustrate the audience with glimpses of how good the movie might have been had it been a little more consistent. There’s a mind-blowing throwaway moment in which a zombie father strolls across screen chomping down on what remains of the contents of a baby carrier strapped to his chest; another in which a chained zombie repeatedly tries to inject himself with a syringe of useless vaccine; a scene in which a callous biker taunts a woman trapped on the roof of a cab surrounded by zombies for running away from him, and an agreeably gruesome zombie clown who meets an inventively grisly end. All these moments should combine to create a memorable flick but, like the long tracking shot – presumably intended to simulate the viewpoint of a gamer – in which Carter single-handedly takes on a horde of zombies, the movie simply refuses to catch fire.
The main reason for this is Dead Rising’s attempt to fuse the standard zombie fight-for-survival plot with one about a Government conspiracy which regularly takes us out of the infected area and adds thirty minutes to a movie which really can’t accommodate a bloated running time of nearly two hours. Why the makers thought such a combination was a good idea only they can say, but whatever their reasoning was, it was fatally flawed and turned what could have been a decent movie into a mediocre one.
(Reviewed 6th November 2015)