Dir: Zach Lipovsky
Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory, Virginia Madsen
Available on UK DVD & Blu-Ray from Content Media / Platform Entertainment
Plot: Dead Rising: Watchtower follows reporter Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) who finds himself in the middle of a zombie outbreak. The outbreak starts when the Zombrex drugs used during a quarantine effort fails. Chase fights for his life along side fellow survivor Crystal (Meghan Ory) as they attempt to undercover a conspiracy and escape with their lives. With the imminent threat of bombing from the military, a vicious biker gang on the streets, and hoards of hungry zombies, Chase and Crystal’s chances look slim.
There has been a long tradition of trying to make video games into good movies and many would argue itis paired with the equally long tradition of making bad video game movies. While franchises like Resident Evil have made some fun movies, they have usually failed to capture what makes the games so great. Dead Rising: Watchtower is one of the few game adaptations that actually manages to capture the essence of it’s source material.Zombies in both film and video games have been done so often that it’s difficult to stand out. The Dead Rising games did this by focusing on the “anything is a weapon” mentality and thankfully that mentality is also prevalent in Watchtower. Duct-taped chainsaw, hammers, bomb axes, and machete halberds are all on show here.
Other key features shared between the games and the movie include roaming gangs of psychos and criminals,the threat of military involvement, and an overarching mystery. The psychos and criminals in the game played the role of mini-bosses and it’s how they work in the movie too. A serious threat but not the lead villain. While the zombies are still a serious threat, it’s always the other humans in a zombie movie that are the real sadists.Virginia Madsen’s (Candyman) character balances precariously on the edge of going psycho which makes her both a looming threat and a painfully tragic character.
The military threat and the mystery are what keeps the pace of this film, Chase and Crystal have got a deadline before the bombs drop so scenes never dwell longer than they should but not at the expense of letting the story unfold naturally.The movie is supposed to act as a bridge between the storylines of the second and third games in the series and most fans of the series will probably see where the mystery plot is going way before it is actually revealed.
While the story is quite predictable, it’s a fun movie that does it’s source material proud.There are loads of references to the games for fans to nerd out on as well as a number of cameos to enjoy. Cameos include appearances from Canada horror directors Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary), and YouTube personalities Harley Morenstein (Epic Meal Time, Tusk) and Ryan Connolly (Film Riot, Tell). All these little details and Easter eggs make Watchtower an enjoyable film for horror nerds and video-game fans alike. It shouldn’t be too surprising that a movie adaptation of a video game series that started with a loose game adaptation of Dawn of the Dead actually works by coming full circle into being a zombie movie again. One to watch for hardcore zombie fans.