DVD Review: ‘Dead Rising: Watchtower’ Is A Thrill Ride That Grabs You

Review By Bradley Smith

I will admit upfront that I have never played any game in the Dead Rising series. After seeing the film adaptation, Dead Rising: Watchtower, I can genuinely say I wish I had played the games if they are as good or, as is usually the case with game to film adaptations, better than the film. Dead Rising: Watchtower is a zombie filled, survival horror, thrill ride that grabs you by the throat and never lets go. Featuring a star-studded cast, a well written screenplay, above average sets and special effects, and premiering on the free Crackle service, there is really no reason to not watch this movie (unless, of course, you just don’t like horror films, in which case why are you still reading this?).

Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives, Dallas) plays Chase Carter, a wannabe journalist looking for his big break by trying to catch the next (internet) viral sensation at the center of a (real) viral containment zone. Photojournalist Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy of Once Upon a Time and Final Destination 2) is along for the ride even as she berates his prospective type of “news” coverage. Chase thinks he’ll succeed with the help of the beautiful Crystal (Meghan Ory, Ruby/Red from Once Upon a Time), but her story and attitude bring more than what he’d bargained.

Within the films’ narrative, the zombie virus exists and is suppressible thanks to a drug called Zombrex which must be taken every day. A large population of infected and non-infected individuals is stuck in a containment zone while they are waiting to be bussed to safety. The Zombrex drug is provided for the infected, but things go awry when the drug stops working and the infected become zombies, leaving Chase and Crystal to fight for their lives while Jordan makes it out of the containment zone, though she may wish she hadn’t.

Also featuring in the story, within the containment zone, is Virginia Madsen (Candyman’s Helen Lyle) as a distraught mother whose daughter was dealing with the infection until the Zombrex quit working, as well as a gang of thugs who try to rule over those that are not infected. Outside of the containment zone, we get a treat from Dennis Haysbert (Major League, 24, and those insurance commercials) as a no-nonsense General who is prepared to bomb the whole city, among other ulterior motives that adds a layer of political intrigue. Rob Riggle is his typical unlikeable, egotistical character who is interviewing with a female anchor covering the outbreak because he survived an earlier attack and wrote a book about the experience. Riggle’s character was my least favorite, possibly the filmmaker’s attempt for comic relief, but the anchor (played by Carrie Genzel) made me chuckle a few times.

I said at the start that I hadn’t played this series, but I am a gamer who has played other survival horror games and it was fun seeing certain elements that are often in these types of games, the most prominent being the various types of weapons that the characters have to make. There is a great scene where Chase is fighting off a horde of zombies and the camera seems to never cutaway as it follows him through a bus, through the crowd, and over and around various vehicles. Fans of the game will probably get more enjoyment out of this movie, but I loved it and would highly recommend it for any fans of zombie/horror.

October 6 on DVD and Digital HD.

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