By David Dent
Ok so this one did not start off promisingly. In the confines of a very cheap set (redressed to look like a maze of corridors – it clearly isn’t) Frances, a confused woman played by stuntwoman Laura Swift – who wears a permanent Maddie Smith furrowed brow – tries to work out why she’s in a supposed underground facility thinking she’s a cook.
Also lost are a couple of waifs and strays she picks up along the way, they being a Professor and a soldier.
They encounter at frequent intervals some strange beings with heads dressed in rags, with murder on their minds.
Luckily Frances is no more a cook than I am but she is rather deft at the old chop socky, so there’s some squishy action, followed by walking, terrible acting, then more fighting.
Ultimately the trio make their way to the top of the building where their collective amnesia fades and the audience learns the full story, involving sharp toothed zombies, shadowy military figures (including top billed Adrian Edmonson and Sally Phillips in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos), a bit of the occult, and some other old piffle involving demons. Who knows?
Admittedly despite the agonisingly slow first 45 minutes this does pick up in the second half, although that’s a relative term. Swift is vaguely endearing though performances of all the leads are scenery guzzling, and the attempts at comedy are just that – attempts.
There’s some very welcome outdoor footage which is a welcome break from the gloom of the interiors, but this serves little point besides giving Swift a different location in which to punch and kick people.
Writer and director Matt Mitchell’s previous feature was 2012’s Gangsters, Guns and Zombies, which I’ve not seen but pretty much sets its stall out in the title.
The Rizen is a very bargain basement Resident Evil ripoff (actually it’s more like the second film in the franchise). Ambitiously, Mitchell seems to have wrapped The Rizen 2 already – unsurprising as the end of this one has sequel written all over it.