As The Rizen begins, a young woman named Frances finds herself being dragged by the arm down a long, gore soaked hallway by a gurgling, chattering, sumbitch with his head wrapped in filthy bandages. What the creature doesn’t realize is he is not dragging a normal woman…no, he is in fact dragging a powder keg of unreasonable violence that merely looks like a woman, and before long ol’ Frances is bashing beastly brains into hamburger with a rock. As she travels on she meets a scientist (neither of our heroes are certain how they ended up in this location), and the duo travel on, fighting more of the monstrous madmen as they come. As our protagonists trek ever onward they unravel some of the mystery surrounding the tunnels, and how they got there; namely a military project to utilize the occult to win the arms race…which of course went over without a single hitch. I’m just F’n with you, it went hideously wrong, and now all that stands between our world and the beings beyond is Frances…if she can just remember who she is and her true purpose.
I love flicks that bend pulp plots with the supernatural (in this case an almost Lovecraftian mythos is presented), and The Rizen does this extremely well. It’s filled with strange beings, clandestine paranormal government plots (shades of Hellboy, and even Captain America what with Frances’ training and conditioning to be a savior…albeit her experience was a shade darker than ol’ Stevie Rogers’). It’s also refreshing to see a woman (the impressively brutal Laura Swift) in the role of take no guff, ass kickin’ war machine rather than the tride n’ true male protagonist that usually takes center stage in these things. Another aspect that should be noted is the deft use of limited locales (the lion’s share of The Rizen takes place in darkened claustrophobic hallways) that work perfectly to create ambiance, and original creature design that is simple but massively effective. Finally, the cinematography is top-shelf as well, and employs a hazy, dreamy quality not unlike that used in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (this film is a period piece as well, taking place in 1955). Oh, one more thing…the climax of this flick is completely bat-shit insane (in the best possible sense of the phrase)!
As for the negatives, the only qualm I had is that some of the acting is uneven (with some performances being a bit ‘cartoony’ and over-the-top, and others being as serious as a heart attack). It’s a very minor quibble at the end of the day, but I noticed it, so there you F’n are creeps!
The Rizen is just the kind of picture that get’s my beastly blood pumpin’; it’s action packed pulp with shades of elder gods and strange beings operating in a way we can scarcely understand, and it’s drenched in ghouls n’ gore. absolutely don’t miss this flick if you dig on H.P. Lovecraft, Hellboy, or just flat out fun fright flicks!
For more on The Rizen from Horror Fuel head here.