Edinburgh International Film Festival

Dead Rising: Watchtower (2015)

Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory. Virginia Madsen, Keegan Connor Tracy, Dennis Haysbert, Rob Riggle

Directed by: Zach Lipovsky

Rating: 1 2 and a half

Jesse Metcalfe in Dead Rising: WatchtowerGuess what? It's the zombie apocalypse. Again. Only this time, (a) a drug's been invented to prevent the infected from turning, and (b) we're actually allowed to use the z word. That aside, there's little about this zombie by numbers late night picture to set it apart from the far greater films it endlessly references: Evil Dead, Braindead, Dawn of the Dead and, er, lots of other movies with the word dead in the title.

Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) is a second-rate internet newshound who dreams of getting a career-making scoop. Lucky for him, then, to find himself trapped in the heart of an undead warzone when the patented Zombrex drug stops working. Even better, there's government skullduggery afoot, the military are about to carpet bomb the quarantine zone and a gang of bikers have escaped from Mad Max to terrorise the district. Oh, and Virginia Madsen's going quietly crazy.

So far so ho hum, except when we get to see the débâcle reported on a local news station, hosted by a helmet-bewigged news reader who's at the end of her tether with her special guest, self-professed zombie survival expert, Tony Hadley lookalike and absolute asshole Frank West (Rob Riggle, doing a great job in a role that looks as if it was written for Bruce Campbell). If the whole film had been reduced to these scenes it would have been (a) so much better and (b) a lot shorter.

News studio aside, despite the odd clumsy political gibe about Hurricane Katrina and the erosion of civil rights, Dead Rising is just another run of the mill zombie splatterfest, with gardening tools and a clown (are you allowed to make a horror film these days without one?). It's not terrible – especially given that it's based on a computer game – but it's hardly groundbreaking either. If you like your zombie movies scary and satirical, I'd stick with the master, Romero. If you want to kill a couple of hours at a film festival between two other films you want to see more, Dead Rising fills the gap nicely.

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