You could be forgiven for expecting a polite BritCom to be finishing off the Sci-Fi London film Festival, given that the cast of The Rizen features Adrian Edmonson (Bottom, The Young Ones) Sally Phillips (Smack the Pony, Miranda) and Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing) however you could not be further from the truth.
Matt Mitchell’s sci-fi thriller opens with a woman (Laura Swift) being dragged along a corridor of one of those claustrophobic underground bunkers that have become a bit of a zombie movie cliché by a figure with its head bound in bandages. Oh no not another bloody zombie flick flashed through my mind, and you know what, I was right, it was something far darker and Lovecraftian.
Set back in Sci-fi’s golden age of the mid 50s an experiment by NATO scientists researching an archive of what I imagine to be captured Nazi supernatural lore, to create the ultimate Cold-War weapon goes hideously wrong. The only still human survivors in the bunker are cook Frances (Swift), Baughman (Christopher Tajah), one of the research scientists and Private Briggs (Patrick Knowles). So it’s up to them to dodge the formerly human survivours and save the world, only Frances may not be the cook she thinks she is.
Gloriously dark and creepy the sense of period evoked not just by the props, hairstyles and costumes but also by the demeanour and mannerisms of the cast are spot on. The flashback cameos by Phillips and Edmondson are quite spectacularly creepy (and they really must make more horror movies on the evidence of their performances in this) and the SFX and creature prosthetics are nicely restrained, although there is a fair amount of gore. Sure when all is said and done I suppose The Rizen is not a million miles away from Resident Evil, but its Resident Evil with a very British stiff upper lip.
Dark, claustrophobic and perfectly evoking the era of Bernard Quatermass I give The Rizen a 555/666