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
Trailer: WORLD WAR DEAD
This 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
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Ray Panthaki: One Crazy Thing, Cryptic, Convenience, Jadoo, The Man Inside (2012), It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, Interview With a Hitman, Screwed (2011), City Rats, Kidulthood, 28 Days Later, Ali G Inda House, Eastenders (TV)
- Wendy Glenn: Genesis, You’re Next
- Kacey Barnfield: Blood Orange, Roadkill (2015), I Spit On Your Grave 2, Green Street 3, Resident Evil 4, Lake Placid 3, Grange Hill (TV)
- Robert Bladen: Genesis
- Ben Shafik: Genesis, Cryptic
- Philip Barantini: Genesis, Cryptic, Hard Boiled Sweets, Ned Kelly (2003), Band of Brothers (TV)