Review: War of the Dead (TBC) / Directed by: Marko Makilaakso / Written by: Barr B. Potter / Starring: Andrew Tiernan, Mikko Leppilampi, Samuel Vauramo / Release Date: TBC
This troubled movie originally premiered at Cannes in 2008 then quickly vanished, the negative remaining locked up due to financial problems ever since. We recently had the opportunity to view the film at a screening in Los Angeles, which hints that the film may now eventually see the light of day on DVD...
Filmed primarily with an English speaking Finnish cast, the story takes place during the Finn/Russian war of 1941-42; a subject matter very few people know about. Captain Niemi (Jouko Ahola) & Lieutenant Laasko (Mikko Leppilampi) and their men team up with an American unit led by Captain Martin Stone (Andrew Tieman) to destroy a Russian occupied bunker.
Taking refuge in a local house owned by an elderly scientist, one of the Finn soldiers purloins a clockwork type device (secretly invented by him for the Nazis to bring the dead back to life) not knowing what's its true, sinister purpose is. After a fierce firefight with Russian soldiers where Finns, Russians and Americans are killed and are soon brought back to life where they are viciously stalked by the living dead soldiers with no allegiance to any side. Putting aside their differences, what's left of the three groups band together and with the help of the scientist's daughter, Desha (Magdalena Gorska), try to stop what they've started.
It’s a confusing story with far too much going on to make any sense. Writers Makilaakso and Barr D. Potter seemed to dream up a bunch of ideas while playing Castle Wolfenstein for the umpteenth time, combined them with bits of Alex Proyas' Dark City then threw them in a blender, whipped it up and poured out the script.
The acting is pretty bland with delivery of lines no better than actors in a high school play. Tieman wears a single expression throughout the movie as if his face was filled with Novocain. You really know nothing about the soldiers or their plight to care enough what happens to them. They play out like characters in a video game that are quickly expendable. The only recognizable name was washed up, 80's martial arts actor Oliver Gruner billed as a Russian soldier whose on screen appearance is more that of an extra role.
Action sequences are also weak - even watching Roger Corman's Ski Troop Attack is better than this movie and he combined stock footage with scenes he shot in the snow covered South Dakota Mountains in two weeks!
War of the Dead wasn't a good idea on paper and nor does it work on film. Avoid.
Expected rating: 7 out of 10