The Rizen (2017) – Film Review
Director: Matt Mitchell
Cast: Laura Swift, Sally Phillips, Tom Goodman-Hill
by Roger Crow
Filmmaking on a budget can be a blessing and a curse. It forces directors to concentrate on story and maximise the resources available. However, casting and knowing your audience is essential if a movie is going to work.
A few minutes into The Rizen and I’m pretty irritated. It plays like an episode of Doctor Who as the heroine and her annoying sidekick professor (whose script sounds like it was torn from the pages of ’Generic Boffin Speak for Beginners’) wander around bleak corridors.
“Reason for the dreamy quality eventually becomes clear”
The body of a monster with lots of teeth is discovered, but any tension dissolves via annoying flashbacks of eclectic characters. If I’m supposed to be scared, The Rizen has already failed as I’m counting the seconds until Prof Generic is lunch.
The dialogue is painfully stilted and despite some starry appearances from the likes of Adrian Edmondson, Tom Goodman-Hill, Sally Phillips and Julian Rhind-Tutt, the am dram turns from the leads test the patience.
The problem is there’s little sense of urgency. I like the fact Frances Day (Laura Swift) is a kick-ass heroine in the Agent Carter mould rather than a victim, but bashing antagonists in the head with a rock for an age gets pretty dull rather fast. The dreamlike pacing plays like the early Resident Evil games which took a while to load between scenes, handily upping the tension.
“I’d like to see more from director Matt Mitchell”
Of course, the reason for the dreamy quality eventually becomes clear, though the fact it feels like a CBBC remake of Jacob’s Ladder, Hellraiser and Event Horizon, with tiresome wandering round the same grey corridors, leads to sleepiness rather than nightmares.
Things pick up towards the end as the plodding mystery becomes a little more clear. It’s not a bad story, and the last ten minutes is far better than anything which comes before. But the Lovecraftian overtones come too little too late.
Like Bubwith-made chiller In Extremis, there are some nice visual touches, but it’s more depressing than thrilling. With a better script, tighter pacing a few cast changes, this could have been a genre classic.
Knowing how hard it is to get any film made, I’d like it to do well, and kudos to the DOP as it’s well lit. I’d also like to see more from director Matt Mitchell and the team behind it, but don’t be too surprised if you’re checking your watch after ten minutes.