The Rizen does not rise to a feature level
Somewhere in darkness and shadow, with occasional swaths of interrogative light, there is a corridor. You might hear sounds, low grumblings, emanating from the night within. You might glimpse dirty, bloody bandages coming at you from your periphery. Or you might be watching The Rizen (2017, Lost Eye Films), a science fiction horror movie that manages to combine elements of Alien and any number of films centered about the Cold War.
Directed and written by Matt Mitchell, The Rizen takes place in mid-1950s Britain, where a young woman (Laura Swift) known at first only as Number 36, and later as Frances, finds herself dragged along one of those darkened corridors by a man-shaped beast with a bandaged head. Her memory is mostly erased, but she instinctively knows she shouldn't be here. She manages to become conscious enough to subdue the beast. Soon after, she encounters others who are similarly stricken with memory loss and being dragged to some unknown destiny by the bandaged.
For audiences who love a mystery that reveals little answer along the journey, The Rizen indeed provides that element. Unfortunately, it rarely offers much more than that. Answers are given to some plot questions through flashes of recovered memory in each of the primary characters. Alas, none if it fills in enough of the story holes to keep it interesting throughout the movie's run length. The acting is adequate if somewhat forced. The cinematography is good. However, there's not enough story and plot in the film to accomplish its obvious task of generating interest in a sequel (in fact, The Rizen 2 is already in post-production).
The majority of the action in this film comes when characters encounter one of the bandaged beasts, which they typically then beat to a pulp with a hammer, a rock, a food tray, or whatever happens to be handy at the time. The beatings go on for an extended amount of time, with most of the impacts being off-screen. That means the audience only sees the actor thrashing with all her or his might at something, but never sees the damage or any reason to continue the beating beyond the bandaged creature’s falling out of the frame.
The Rizen could have been a much better film had it been kept to a shorter length. The length of this first act of what one presumes is to be a trilogy felt forced and unnatural. Too much of the viewer's time is spent on the actors walking through darkened corridors with fearful expressions on their faces, often with dialogue that is difficult to hear and decipher even at an average television volume.
All in all, the premise for The Rizen is interesting. This first film is merely lacking in the execution.
By Isaac Thorne