Film Review: ‘Dead Rising: Watchtower’


In an effort to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu, the free streaming service, Crackle, has been releasing their own exclusive titles to the service.  They found success with the beloved series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and very soon, they’ll be releasing a long-awaited Joe Dirt sequel, Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser.  For the horror fans, they’ve also released Dead Rising: Watchtower, which is a horror film adapted from the popular Dead Rising video games from Capcom.

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Dead Rising: Watchtower focuses on a reporter, Chase Carter, and his camerawoman, Jordon, during the midst of another zombie outbreak.  Described as taking place between Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 3 (making the movie canon with the game series), horror breaks out when a city’s supply of Zombrex (a magical drug that prevents zombification if taken daily) turns out to be ineffective.  Chase and Jordon, along with a couple other survivors, attempt to flee the city before a massive firebombing will level the entire area.

The playable hero from the original Dead Rising video game, Frank West, is present in the film, although he is not a main character.  West merely is a guest on a news program during the events of a new outbreak, and clips of him giving his tips for survival appear every so often.  It would have been pretty rad to see Frank West on the ground, hacking up zombies with nail bats while taking pictures, but I was happy nonetheless with his inclusion.  Rob Riggle made a perfect casting choice for the smarmy character, and I’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who could have done better.

There were a few other things in the movie to satisfy the hardcore fans of the game series, and it was fun searching for the various easter eggs.  The ever-familiar Servbot mask could be seen in many forms, such as on the T-shirt of one of the characters, and even the mask themselves could be seen on store shelves.  Chuck Greene’s iconic weapon from the Dead Rising 2 cover, the “Sledge Saw,” is also seen and used to take out a number of the undead.  It also helped to make it feel more like the games when characters would use whatever ordinary objects they could find as weapons, such as a toaster and a trash bag.

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Unfortunately, however, Dead Rising: Watchtower didn’t really have any substance beyond the references to the video games.  A 2 hour running time is a little long for a comedy-themed zombie movie, especially one that struggles with its humor.  The basic plot of a group of survivors trying to escape a zombie-filled city before the government firebombs it is becoming a tiresome cliche, and apart from the references to the Dead Rising games, this is merely just another average zombie movie with nothing that makes it unique.

I used to think Dead Rising was a great concept to adapt as a feature film, but having seen it happen, I’ve reconsidered that stance.  It doesn’t matter if video games are a bit mindless, and I’ve got no problem spending hours bashing zombies with the wackiest weapons I can find.  But when it comes to a two hour movie, I’m just spending the whole time wishing I had a controller.  Dead Rising fans may get a few kicks out of some of the references, but other than that, watching Watchtower was a largely forgettable experience.

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