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Dead Rising: Watchtower is a comedic horror film not for the squeamish about death and government conspiracies. Dead Rising is one of the more successful zombie video games that have been released. Like Resident Evil, this game has finally been adapted into a feature film. What separates Dead Rising from games like Resident Evil is the practically unlimited ways a person has at their disposal to kill zombies.
It is a popular series for those with a dark sense of humor and an imagination for creating weapons, like duct-taping a chainsaw to each end of a kayak paddle, then attaching the “saw-paddle” to a dirt bike and riding through hundreds of zombies at a time. Dead Rising:Watchtower recognizes what made the games so fun to play, and incorporates this onto film. A skill saw attached to a sledge hammer? This is what makes a zombie apocalypse film fun and worth watching. Characters not having military experience and a bunch of guns, but improvising just to survive.
The film begins after a five-minute struggle with a zombie clown bearing an ax, with a reporter who is inside a zone recently put on quarantine. He is covering the potential outbreak, filming local residents lining up to take their “Zombrex”, a drug that keeps the infection at bay for those who have been bitten in previous outbreaks. Suddenly, an individual who had already received his zombrex dose starts to change, convulsing on the ground. Then another, and another of the zombrex users start doing the dance of the dead. Chaos erupts, people running in all directions away from the infected, one man can be seen in a wheelchair frantically trying to wheel himself away. Then viewers watch as the cripple gets it from behind, knowing that they will soon see a wheeled zombie. As with many zombie disaster films, Dead Rising: Watchtower promotes government orchestrated conspiracies. After all, it was the government who supplied the zombrex to the quarantine zone.
The main character makes it away from the outbreak site, and comes across a woman kneeling over a little girl. The woman has a bloody knife in her hand, and the dead child turns out to be her daughter. In the nick of time before being mauled, the two and another survivor hop in a mini van and speed away. After running the mini van head on into a zombie, the driver crashes and cannot get the van to start again. Luckily, the three are able to take refuge only yards away in an abandoned pawn shop, a zombie survivalist’s dream.
While taking the time to arm themselves, one of the characters is found to be a zombrex user herself, and her drugs work. This brings up the question as to why the drugs would not work for other users. This survivor gets her supply from a dealer, not from the government stockpiles. She has only one dose left, so aside from escaping the quarantine zone, they now must search for more zombrex to keep her alive. When they find it in a warehouse, however, they perform an experiment and find that the government issued zombrex simply does not work, but the vial that was not issued through the government works as it is supposed to.
When the individuals attempting to survive and escape find this out, they have less than 24 hours before the government plans to fire-bomb the entire area. If viewers are unable to figure out by this point that at the heart of this gore fest is a government conspiracy in motion, then there is less hope for them as there is for those trapped in the quarantine zone. Why the government would ship medication that does not work into a quarantine zone is a story as old as time, power. The power to gather people together and cause an outbreak of zombies intentionally has a wide variety of usefulness, including but not limited to the control of populations the world over.
Though Dead Rising: Watchtower is a fun foray into the ever popular zombie genre, the film’s charm wears off quickly. It is filled with under-developed characters, it cuts away from scenes fading to black like one would expect to see before a commercial break while watching a movie on television. This gives the film an under produced feel, that quickly turns it into a B-rated gore fest. Some of the weapon creations are fun to see in action but do not make up for the overall boredom of the film itself. Generously, this film receives a three and a half out of ten stars. If zombie lovers and those who can understand why a government would conspire to cause an outbreak are looking for a film they will not get bored with, avoid Dead Rising: Watchtower at all costs.
By Benjamin Johnson
Viewing of Dead Rising: Watchtower
Photo by Vincent Anderlucci – flickr license