WORLD WAR DEAD: RISE OF THE FALLEN

PrintE-mail Written by J. R. Southall

DVD/VOD REVIEW: WORLD WAR DEAD: RISE OF THE FALLEN / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: FREDDIE HUTTON-MILLS, BART RUSPOLI / SCREENPLAY: FREDDIE HUTTON-MILLS, BART RUSPOLI / STARRING: RAY PANTHAKI, WENDY GLENN, KACEY BARNFIELD / RELEASE DATE: MAY 4TH

If you’re thinking of filmmaking in the post-George A. Romero territory latterly popularised by 28 Days Later and currently occupied by The Walking Dead, you’d better be sure of your material. There’s no point trying to compete unless your idea is strong and your product is sturdy. World War Dead (tagged with the oddly clunky, Transformers-esque subtitle Rise of the Fallen) has an interesting premise but squanders any goodwill before it’s even out of the trenches.

A documentary team revisit the Somme a hundred years after the infamous conflict, ostensibly to chronicle some of the more mysterious events surrounding the battle. The unearthing of the body of a German soldier, apparently with occult leanings, raises an army of the undead to which the filmmakers fall prey one by one. There’s little in the way of an actual plot (the undead appear to revive due to the discovery of a token, rather than any ceremony or ritual – and somewhat confusingly first appear before the artefact itself is discovered), and any attempt to colour in backgrounds for the actors renders them either disagreeable or just bland. The story itself, which ought to have used the Great War backdrop far better, feels much too slight to engage on any level. The entire production generates little in the way of plausibility, either about the documentary makers or what they are documenting. By the time the killing starts, you really don’t care.

Having failed to engender any sympathy for the victims, it falls to the carnage to inspire some interest. Sadly, World War Dead (whose name appears to have been inspired by an anglicised pronunciation of World War Z) largely fails in this too, with most of the zombie attacks taking the form of a dropped camera accompanied by a burst of noise; the music acts as an ever-present discomfort blanket interrupted only by glitches in the film. That’s right, World War Dead is another found footage movie. But the excuses for having cameras running at odd times mark the first third of the film improbable (although at least this attempts to create some intimacy between the cast, who otherwise struggle with the dual levels of acting required), and this might all have worked rather better had the found footage angle been dropped.

World War Dead’s one saving grace, in spite of the documentary angle, is its cinematography. It looks absolutely stunning, especially in the daylight sequences that bookend the film, and the visuals are almost enough to make it worth seeing. Unfortunately, a lack of empathy for the characters makes you wish the directors had spent more time working with the actors and less with the lenses. An interesting idea, but a wasted opportunity.

Special Features: TBC
 

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