Rise of the Dead (DVD)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Erin Wilk, Stephen Seidel, Chris Ferry, Peter Blitzer, Vickie Myers, Jaime Whitlock and Brooke Delaney
Directed by William Wedig
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
I was more than prepared to open this review with a screed about how the makers and distributors of zombie flicks need to stop using titles that contain the phrase "of the dead" or "of the living dead" because it has become such a tired, unoriginal cliché. I'll have to file that rant away for another day.
Why is that?
Because despite its title, despite its box art, despite the phrase "A terrifying zombie thriller!" in big bold lettering above the brief plot synopsis on the back of the DVD case, the truth is that Rise of the Dead is not a zombie movie. The dead are not rising; people are just getting possessed by a vengeful spirit from beyond the grave. The first two "zombies" may walk like Ed Grimley and making hissing, gurgling noises like some movie zombies tend to do, but from then on it's just an actor getting a dead-eyed vacant stare and behaving like a mindless maniac and making animal-like grunting noises clearly added during post-production. Once a "zombie" begins chasing a woman around a house with a golf club it should become apparent that a zombie flick this is not. It should also become apparent that this is not going to be a good movie either.
I will give some credit to the screenwriters for coming up with quite the ludicrous explanation as to what's going on: the angry spirit of a dead baby has begun tormenting the birth mother who put him up for adoption by taking possession of people around her and using them to seek violent retribution. The way the scenario gets resolved will prove to be equally tacky. Unfortunately, aside from the outlandish explanation behind what's going on and how it all ends, the rest of the movie is a million shades of blah.
The lead female gave a baby up for adoption; the boy then ended up with a pair of local Christian fundamentalists. They were declared unfit and the child was taken from them only to be put with a careless couple who left a gun laying around for the toddler to find and accidentally kill himself. When the baby was taken from them, the seemingly deranged Christian fundie mother put a curse on the child. I know it's fashionable to beat up on people of faith in movies these days, especially in horror flicks, but really now... As she'll tell the birth mother when asked why she would put a curse on an infant, "He's better off cursed than living with a bunch of sinners." Follow the bouncing ball of logic on that one.
The cinematography and production values are professional looking for such a low budget production and the few blood and gore effects on display are handled decently enough. And, hey, why not toss in a completely random nude shower scene?
The acting, while not particularly strong, is not offensively bad, but the characters they're playing are, again, a million shades of blah. The lead actress often looks and sounds more bored than concerned. Heck, there were times when even the movie seemed bored with itself. After getting off to a decent enough start that made me wonder if this might not be so bad after all, it quickly falls into a rut after the first fifteen minutes that it's never able to climb out of.
On the plus side, Rise of the Dead is a mercifully short 72-minutes in length. That still doesn't make it an hour and twelve minutes of your time worth wasting on another cheap and clunky horror flick that Lionsgate has decided to help further clutter DVD racks with.
1-1/2 out of 5