The Rizen Synopsis: 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.
Tagline: Quarantine Breached
Writer/Director: Matt Mitchell
Release Date: 06/27/17 (U.K.) – 01/02/2018 (VOD), Runtime: 1hr 34min, Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Received from October Coast for review consideration
The Rizen Review
I have to confess that I’m a little surprised at the low IMDB rating. It’s not a perfect movie but I really liked it. A lot. For what seems like a lower budgeted movie they definitely made good use of the budget where needed. The practical effects were excellent. The creatures reminded me a bit of the nurses from the Silent Hill series (minus the cleavage). It was not in a rip-off way but just in the general aesthetic. They saved their CGI budget for the end and it shows. It was great. Nothing looked cheesy or off at all. It felt very natural and organic with the events.
The tunnels are not exactly the most thrilling of backdrops but they were used and dressed to great effect. The cinematographer made full use of the claustrophobia of the tunnels and the use of darkness. Set against certain shots of the characters it worked very well and did not seem forced or overly staged.
The characters were mainly likable and there were some genuinely funny little moments between them that didn’t seem forced at all. Frances (Laura Swift) takes a bit to warm up to. She seems a little disaffected and a bit bland at first but it is explained over the course of the movie. Baughman the Scientist (Christopher Tajah) I immediately liked. He also had a miraculous scientific feat all of his own. He had the most invincibly spotless lab coat and shirt that I have ever seen. It survives a bloody handed manhandling, a dragging, a few fights and an injury and yet the coat remains impeccable. I have to admire that kind of dedication to coat cleanliness. Briggs (Patrick Knowles) is just an all-around great character. He’s the Soldier and he does his soldiering very well. He has the most humorous lines but they’re all so quietly delivered that they seem very natural and not obnoxious or that old enemy of jokes everywhere: “Trying Too Hard”.
I’m not going to say much about the finale but I really could not look away. It took some turns that I did not see coming and that really surprised me. Maybe I’m easily pleased but…wow. I loved the ending. Particularly the use of the subtitles. I thought it was a nice touch.
However, since very few movies are perfect, there were a few issues. I don’t think they’re deal-breakers though. The main one was all of the fight scenes. Which wouldn’t have been too bad except that they were a bit poorly done. For instance, a ‘slam’ against the wall produces a light bump. I noticed a few times that the hits did not connect (and a few were quite a ways off).They tried to cover it by angling the camera but you can still tell they’re not very…energetic. The dialogue is a tad awkward and clunky in spots but I give the awkwardness a pass because unless it’s atrocious (and this certainly wasn’t) it’s more realistic. Three people thrown together are going to be awkward.
I especially enjoyed Mysterious Creepy Guy and Mysterious Creepy Woman. They did a very subtle thing with Mysterious Creepy Guy that actually was creepy. And, again, restraint went a long way here. They gave you just enough to make it noticeable but did not draw a big neon sign above his head saying, “Hey! I’m creepy and evil!”
The revelation of the mystery is given to you in bits and pieces and at even intervals, keeping the pace flowing well. It could have flowed a bit better without a few of the repetitious scenes. Also, I don’t know if the hairstyle that Frances had was correct for the time but it seemed…odd. I don’t generally comment on an actor’s appearance but this really stood out to me, especially in light of later events. It’s really the only part of The Rizen that I can say that they were trying a wee bit too hard to throw a slight red herring at you.
The Rizen is a good mix of action, mystery and horror that soon sucked me in. For anyone looking for non-stop action filled with one-liners then The Rizen probably isn’t going to be for you. However, if you’re looking for a bit of mystery, a bit of gore and one heck of an ending then I strongly recommend The Rizen. I see there’s a sequel in the works and I’m a little torn on that. In a way I am curious about a few things but I also think that The Rizen ended well so I don’t really know how it could support a sequel. I guess we will see…