2 out of 10

Release Date: 4th May 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Freddie Hutton-Mills & Bart Ruspoli (Genesis / Cryptic)

Cast: Ray Panthaki, Wendy Glenn, Kacey Barnfield, Robert Bladen, Ben Shafik, Eva Solveig, Marco Gambini and Philip Barantini

Writer: Bart Ruspoli & Freddie Hutton-Mills


World-War-Dead-Rise-of-the-Fallen-watermarkedThis Jonathan Sothcott production is mainly notable for finally nabbing the ultimate sub-title. Calling it Rise of the Fallen will probably draw a line under the procession of gangster and hooligan movies that have used either word ‘rise’ or ‘fall’ somewhere in their names. Sadly it’s a zombie horror and not a tale of undead Essex Boys. That’s probably in development as we speak. Rise of the Fallen Rettendon Dead or Essex Zombies would make a great movie. Only a Landrover can save you! Anyway, I digress totally.

World War Dead has been derived from another Bart Ruspoli script – for it is he that came up with parkour zombies in the Danny Dyer vehicle Devil’s Playground. Well he’s back with his new friend and co-director/writer Freddie Hutton-Mills to bring us yet another found-footage horror. The makers argue that this footage has been compiled after the fact from fiur cameras by persons unknown but this has little bearing on the outcome. Unlike the success stories of this horror sub-genre like The Blair Witch Project and The Borderlands, World War Dead is badly lit, confused in the telling and a missed opportunity. Where the acting is slightly above average for a film of this quality its still an unholy mess.

A  team follow an unscrupulous documentary director Marcus Singh (RAY PANTHAKI – INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN) with credibility issues to Somme in France. They take an occult expert, Brian (ROBERT BLADEN – GENESIS) who makes a discovery that may or may not give credence to a local myth that undead zombie soldiers from the First World War still stalk the fields and forests of the Somme.  When the zombies show up, some of the team think its a prank by Singh and get themselves eaten. Who will make it through the night?

There are two moments of tension in the film. The first comes when one of the characters pulls on a submerged chain to drag an unknown object from a murky lake. The outcome is sh*t but the build up was quite good. The second is the arrival of the zombies. I was so focussed on one of the shambling figures that I missed the other half dozen at the other end of the shot. A great diversionary tactic that could have been a fluke. There are no memorable kills in World War Dead. A great zombie film is all about the kills yet this film botches every single death. Even a massive sacrifice by a lead character goes off without a fuss or any grandstanding. The whole film is flat although the action is frantic. Sadly for most of the time it’s difficult to follow what we’re looking at. There’s a great deal of disorientation once our team hit an old network of subterreanean trenches – there’s no sense of geography so characters stumble around in a set of tunnels that look very much alike for an eternity whilst zombies lurch out of walls and floors to no real effect.

The cast try valiantly to inject their characters with some personality but they are just stock media wankers. The most sympathetic character is dispatched first and we’re just left with the mouthy one and the one who has sole survivor stencilled on their forehead. I’d like to say that the zomibe make up effects were good but if they were you can’t tell as the zombies are hard to see as the cameras swipe around the dimly lit rooms or dark fields.  A semi-good idea is squandered at the expense of playing it safe. The result is one of the dullest zomibe films I’m yet to see and that in itself is a crime.

2 out of 10 – Avoid. It’s too ordinary and derivative to be memorable. Yet another ‘found-footage’ piece of crap masquerading as progressive UK cinema. It’s a shame because some of the actors do make an effort to try and make this work.

See additional review by Splat Usher




  1. WORLD WAR DEAD – RISE OF THE FALLEN – review by Joe Pesci II

    What a truly staggeringly silly title. The first part is grammatically stupid and the subtitle might as well describe what one does after tripping over. An abysmal film is guaranteed. Or is it?

    The plot: A team of film-makers go to the Somme to make a documentary. Zombie soldiers kill them. Yes, it’s an abysmal film.

    The truly shocking thing about it is how absolutely unshocking it is. It’s a film about First World War zombies, obscene relics from the Battle of the Somme in a film being released to cash in on the World War One centenaries. This should be a disgustingly tasteless assault on the audience’s sense of propriety. We should be appalled at what the film-makers are trying to do, we should have nothing but revulsion for their sick imaginings and their trampling on the noble dead.

    But the film is so bad and so bland it’s difficult to give a damn.

    It’s as if, having come up with a really bad-taste, offensive premise, the producers had second thoughts and decided to do just a nice everyday zombie massacre film because they didn’t want to get criticised for literally trampling on war graves. And in this regard they have succeeded: the film is somehow inoffensive, possibly because it’s so bad you spend most of the time wondering how it got made. I’m not saying I would necessarily like a controversial headline-grabbingly offensive film dancing on the graves of the war dead, but it just seems ludicrously cack-handed to go to the trouble and expense of making a film that has CONTROVERSIAL HEADLINE-GRABBINGLY OFFENSIVE PREMISE stamped all over it, and then not make a controversial headline-grabbingly offensive film. But bizarrely we end up with an almost tasteful Somme zombie film.

    The film attempts the found-footage technique but fails – there are too many angles, too many shots, and they seem to film a lot of stuff that you just wouldn’t shoot (a character films himself on a bike for some reason). Worse though is that the technique is a cloak so the film-makers don’t have to show any close-ups of zombies or gunge or anything which might expose the special effects to scrutiny. Which is a good idea for a low budget film so long as you’re able to disguise that that’s what you’re doing. But here it looks like the camera is turning away at the crucial moment because they haven’t got enough money for a detachable fake leg.

    There are some good jump moments – the first appearance of the soldiers in the distance is creepy and there’s a good cat scare in a trench, but the actual attack(s) of the zombies are woeful, repetitive, and so badly filmed (found footage does its stuff) that we rarely see the zombies, or the grisly stuff they’re doing. Again, it’s the film-makers wanting to make a tasteful zombie film, without much in the way of blood, gore, or dismemberment. This would be fine if the story, themes or characters were compelling, but they are not.

    As we know, zombie films are metaphors (communism, consumerism, bird flu, immigrants etc). so what is the metaphor here? You’d think a film about zombie soldiers would be making a point about how war turns fine young men into cadaverous corpse-like beings (perhaps even before they get killed). But I couldn’t see it here. The film is mainly concerned with tedious media types. Maybe the film is saying ‘is this what they died for? The freedom of these morons?’ That’s certainly a message I’d like to find here, an angry cry of the dead as they see life wasted on the vacuous. But I don’t think it’s what the film-makers were getting at. Instead we have a film which accurately depicts its real film-makers as the pretend film-makers, and shows them to be really as stupid as they think they’re pretending to be, after all they’re so rubbish they can’t even make a controversial bad taste film when they’ve got all the ingredients in front of them. A film which is sick and depraved enough to turn our brave hallowed hopeless lads into zombies should have the Daily Mail up in arms (actually I’m going to go in, I’m going to see if that hypocritical bastion of fake-Britishness has anything to say) (I’m back – couldn’t see anything in there, it’s mostly suggestions for Princess Charlotte’s diet) and yet we come away with a bloodless lifeless film which maybe paints zombies as being quite astute film critics.

    The cast are mostly very good considering the stock stereotypes they embody. There’s a sensible one, a know-it-all, a feisty one, and a dumb one. I liked the bloke who played the hopelessly hapless cameraman, a man so dim he could rarely tell whether his camera was on or not (yet he’s part of a BAFTA winning team) (in the story). He also has the line ‘get off of me’ directed to a ravenous zombie that’s grabbed him. Ray Panthaki seems to excel at pillocks, and his character here is no exception, merrily dispensing quips about how aweSomme yet Somme-bre this particular assignment is. The only surprise is that he doesn’t refer to the attackers as Somme-bies. A minor character is credited as Strange Man, though there’s nothing strange about him, it might be more accurate to describe him as Sensible French Man (seeing as his advice is basically: don’t go to the Somme and get yourselves killed).

    And so I come full circle. When I joined this Brtipic project I was unaware Britain had a Low-Budget Zombie-Movie Subgenre (UKLBZMSG). Happy innocent times! But now I know better and I have dredged my way through many permutations of the zombie Armageddon. This latest instalment is the brainchild of Bart Ruspoli and Freddie Hutton-Mills, both of whom had writing and/or producing credits on DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, the first entry in the UKLBZMSG that I encountered. That was a poor piece of work, but a towering achievement in comparison with this.

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