Rise of the Dead,
directed by William Wedig
(Lions Gate, 2007)

Rise of the Dead actually proved to be a more interesting film than I anticipated. Unfortunately, the ridiculous premise and the weird and disturbing ending (and I mean weird and disturbing in a totally not cool, yucky kind of way) are too much for any film to truly overcome. A misleading box cover and description (we're not really talking about the undead here) doesn't do much in the way of promoting viewer satisfaction, either. Don't blame the independent filmmakers for falsely marketing this as a zombie movie, though -- that cinematic sin was committed by the film's unscrupulous distributors. I hope horror fans will just give this film a chance.

Laura Childs (Erin Wilk) is just an unremarkable waitress in a nowhere town -- until, that is, several of the townspeople start trying to kill her. Friends, family, leading townspeople she doesn't even know -- the girl never knows when someone near her is going to suddenly have a go at her with whatever sort of weapon tends to be handy. Fortunately for her, the would-be killers seemingly lose all but a bare modicum of control of their coordination and bearings, and her quasi-former boyfriend usually shows up in time to help her. Of course, the cops have a little trouble connecting the dots Laura is giving them, especially after she connects enough of those dots to figure out what is actually going on here. Eventually, a couple of the cops get a strong dose of "seeing is believing," but that doesn't really do Laura -- or the cops -- any good whatsoever. Now a lot of reviews of this film go on to totally reveal every last facet of what goes on here, but I hope a few people will actually be able to avoid those and truly judge this film on its own merits.

I don't know what marketing genius decided to change the original title of this film, Tantrum, to Rise of the Dead (oh, wait, Lions Gate picked this film up for distribution -- that's who really deserves the scorn of those who went into this film expecting to see zombies). Tantrum is, I daresay, a perfect title for this movie. It's a real shame that Lions Gate's typical exploitation practices have led to so much criticism of the original independent film itself. As I said, it's a rather absurd storyline with an icky (but original) ending, but this isn't a bad movie -- especially when you consider the fact that it was reportedly made for a mere 20,000 simoleons.

If you just judge the film on production value alone, I don't see how you can come away without being impressed. If nothing else -- even if you dislike the storyline -- there is originality and directorial boldness in this film, and that makes it an independent horror effort deserving much more respect than it has received.

review by
Daniel Jolley

17 September 2011

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