The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - THE RIZEN | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - THE RIZEN

the rizen review
A woman awakens in a mysterious underground facility.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Matt Mitchell

Starring: Laura Swift, Sally Phillips, Bruce Payne, Adrian Edmondson

the rizen poster

Beginning in 1955 after the event of some mysterious ‘incident’, The Rizen endeavours to tell the story of a woman with amnesia waking underground with no idea why/how/who, and her journey to the truth.

The first shot is of our unknown woman (Laura Swift) being dragged by her foot down a corridor. She is punched in the face by the dragger, which leads to a punch up in which she emerges the victor after bashing his head in with a rock. Unfortunately the sound effects are not quite right as it sounds like she’s hitting a papier-mache globe, and even worse it looks like it too. This doesn’t bode well.

Neither does the styling, as the filmmakers have decided to create that '50s vibe by giving her an odd catty hairstyle and not-of-the-era natural make up.

the rizen

The woman looks remarkably clean and unaffected by the dragging and punching and wot not; her feline hair still perfectly coiffed, her face a mask of serenity.

She meets up with prissy Professor Richard Baughman (Christopher Tajah) and explains they are “in a tunnel” - yeah, no kidding.

They both have ID in their pockets and so introduce each to the other. Her name, it seems, is Frances, and she is a cook.

Sharing what bits and pieces they remember, it's clear that a type of amnesia has struck them both and they are unsure why or how they are trapped where they are.

After killing another one of the ‘men’ similar to the one that was dragging Frances in the beginning, they unmask him to find some sort of burnt toothy creature, which is not in the least bit scary or disturbing.

They find another professor in a jail cell writing the word ‘rizen’ in her own blood over and over. The toothy creature in her cell kills her and drags her away before they can save her, but luckily she drops a pencil on her way out; and, as the professor says, “we need that pencil” - not sure why but they bargain hard to get it from another professor who appears out of nowhere in time to claim it as his own. They discover that they all have numbers written on their arms that nobody understands.

the rizen

There’s some mathematical guff where they work out that they are underground (which would seem pretty obvious to me even without the calculations) and Frances is forced to do battle with another creature that’s quite easily bested with her punches. He then just lies there while she excessively bludgeons him with a crowbar - once again not a hair out of place or a smear of lipstick. I must learn her trick!

They find a new companion in Private Briggs (Patrick Knowles) and all set off to find weapons in that underground tunnel.

Meanwhile, Frances has begun having flashbacks that reveal a deeper conspiracy than they’d suspected, and though it explains the creatures and the amnesia, it’s neither satisfying, nor does it make a lot of sense.

It’s all to do with government machinations and military experiments and parallel dimensions, which culminates in a completely over the top conclusion that leaves the door way open for the inevitable, dreaded sequel.

Director Matt Mitchell’s decision to imbue the look of this film with an old timey nostalgic muted palette works well - visually, it's effective. Unfortunately that’s the only positive I can list here.

the rizen

The acting is either wooden or too theatrical; the effects lack impact (for instance each time a creature is bludgeoned there is no blood splatter); the sound effects are very amateurish; the storyline veers between deliberately convoluted and tiresome; and none of the characters ever feel authentic.

Even the presence of Sally Phillips (Bridget Jones' Diary) and Adrian Edmondson (The Young Ones), who pop up in cameos, does little to alleviate the boredom inherent in 94 minutes of watching people walk about in grey walled tunnels.

With touches of the Cold War and '50s paranoia plus inter-dimensional portals, this had the potential to be intriguing and involving, but is instead a wasted opportunity on the road to dullsville.

There are many good movies set underground, but this one should’ve stayed buried.

The Rizen is on VOD January 2nd 2018.