The Rizen, 2017.
Directed by Matt Mitchell.
Starring Laura Swift, Christopher Tajah, Patrick Knowles, Adrian Edmondson, Julian Rhind-Tutt, and Sally Phillips.
The year is 1955. NATO and the Allied Forces have been conducting secret, occult experiments in a bid to win the Arms Race. Now, they have finally succeeded but what the Army has unleashed threatens to tear our world apart. One woman must lead the only survivors past horrors that the military has no way to control – and fight to close what should never have been opened.
The Rizen is the type of film that you find on the Horror channel late one night and for some inexplicable reason you can’t stop watching it. It’s a combination of gore horror, sci-fi and comedy (most I imagine is unintentional).
Opening with a ton of choppy editing, a woman called Frances (Swift) is dragged through a dark hallway and attacked by some kind of creature. She fights him off and has to battle her way out of the tunnels with the help of a scientist (Tajah) and a soldier (Knowles). The plot is nonsensical, tonally all over the place and its underlying mystery has a truly bonkers explanation that I’ll admit I didn’t see coming.
So where to start with the flaws? The acting is largely atrocious. In the lead role Laura Swift is wooden and although she’s good in the action sequences (her forte is in stunts) she has no screen presence at all. She’s supported by Christopher Tajah as a bumbling scientist who seems to be playing it for laughs but this could be unintentional. His character reminded me of Lee Evans’ bumbling Brit in There’s Something About Mary. Finally you have Patrick Knowles as Private Briggs who has such little character development there’s no wonder that he’s completely one-dimensional. There are a few glimmers of talent with cameo appearances from Adrian Edmondson, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Sally Phillips. Unfortunately they’re so fleeting as to make little to no impact.
As well as the acting, the monsters themselves are slow-moving and unintimidating. There is some decent monster makeup in a few scenes but this doesn’t compensate for them lacking any interesting qualities. There is also some clunky editing, slow-paced action scenes and an insane amount of flashbacks.
Director and writer Matt Mitchell clearly enjoys the genre and his love does shine through on the screen. There are a few interesting camera moves throughout and you can see the idea that he’s tried to put together. The idea of the central mystery is a good one and perhaps with a bigger budget and better actors it could have been executed better. As it stands The Rizen is a plodding and at times awful film to watch.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★