World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen Movie Review
Written by Simret Cheema-Innis
DVD released by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Written and Directed by Freddie Hutton-Mills and Bart Ruspoli
2015, 77 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 5th May 2015
Kacey Barnfield as Amanda
Wendy Glenn as Emma
Ray Panthaki as Marcus
Philip Barantini as Liam
Ben Shafik as Daz
Eva Solveig as Joanna
Robert Bladen as Brian
Long Dead. This is not a sentence we can hope to hear as the found footage movie continues to scare horror fanatics witless with shaky cameras and before-death testimonies. Now add zombies and World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen to the reality formula and make up your own minds whether this film works or not.
It's the centenary of the First World War, and a TV crew along with cocky director Marcus (Ray Panthaki) are making a documentary about The Battle of the Somme. With the crew are war historians Brian (Robert Bladen) and Emma (Wendy Glenn) who suffer Marcus's ignorance and lack of empathy while he keeps digging for the gory parts of the battlefield stories. He even forces Brian to refer to the battle of Delville Wood as 'Devil Wood', sensationalising every aspect of the documentary, further infuriating his crew.
While shooting a piece to camera Emma falls into a swamp which leads the crew to discover the skeleton of a British soldier. When Brian investigates the body, he finds an amulet linked with black magic, used to raise the dead. But uncovering the skeleton unleashes a curse and the crew is faced with its own battle in 'Devil Wood.'
As far as found footage movies go it works well up until the zombie attack. Characters are well defined and believable. Panthaki's portrayal of Marcus the cocky, slander-grabbing director is spot on. He's annoying; his mannerisms reflect the director archetype which unfortunately does exist. The dynamic between each character, from the producer to the cameraman is well executed. If you want a true image of an amateur TV film crew look no further than this film.
It's true we can expect shaky camera footage and jump cuts in this genre, but the jarring film style in World War Dead is at risk of losing the patience of its audience. In one scene there are voices speaking over each other and it's unclear where the focus is and who we're meant to be looking at. It feels messy, improvised even and unbelievable. Even hysteria needs to make some sense in a movie or at least direct the audience as to what's happening.
Then there's the arcade game effect where zombies pop up and for a second you think you're playing a videogame as the camera shifts from zombie to wall, to darkness and then back to zombie again. Other parts of the film are reminiscent of a walk in the London Dungeon, with ghouls popping out or languishing in their torment reaching out while the tour group, or in this case, film crew scuttles past. It's almost an immersive experience, but unfortunately without the credibility of a horror movie.
World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen is a good concept, but it becomes a farce of existing zombie found-footage movies that it's difficult to feel empathy with the characters by the end of the film. You don't feel their trauma or even their grief-stricken panic because of the irritating camera movements. And this is topped by a mediocre explanation of the curse and what they should do to end it.
The resolution is underplayed, although teamed with a grandiose ending. Could World War Dead be part of a dead genre? It's a matter of personal opinion, but it does pose the question whether this film would have worked perfectly well without the reality aspect. And CUT.