The Battle of the Somme marked one of the bloodiest battles in human history wounding and killing over 1,000,000 German and Allied soldiers. Now a century later, a documentary team - led by filmmaker Marcus Singh (Ray Panthaki) and Emma Washington (Wendy Glenn) have travelled to the the site to film a TV ratings smash hit, unveiling the mysteries that led to its horrific outcome. However what they unearth is far worse than they could have imagined - an army of the undead and a brand new war.
Spoilers follow ...
- World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen review by NP
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A troupe of highly argumentative film-makers travel to the Somme to record a documentary. Their internal disagreements are interrupted by figures in the distance that suddenly disappear. Similar events occur within and around ‘Devil’s Wood’, scene of one of the most central WW1 Somme battles.
Professor Brian Lock’s (Robert Bladon) facts are subject to ‘artistic embellishment’ by a clearly underwhelmed Marcus (Ray Panthaki), who is trying to spice up his documentary. Although his arrogance is legendary among his fellows, it’s easy to sympathise with Marcus’ point of view. Very little actually happens for a long time, but he decayed cadaver of a Rhodesian soldier dragged from a misty river threatens to liven things up, especially as he appears to have swallowed a black magic amulet – it’s apparent power involves bringing the dead back to life.
For a found footage film, there aren’t many attempts to keep it strictly realistic; too many camera angles for the available equipment to actually record, and the addition of evocative ambient incidental music at crucial moments (music that isn’t interrupted by the constant – and annoying – times when the camera breaks up and crackles in the way of this style of film-making). That’s not a particular problem for me: we know this isn’t an actual documentary; the days when an audience wondered if a found footage film was a drama or real life ended with ‘The Blair Witch Project’ sixteen years earlier.
Of the characters, Marcus is perhaps the best defined. He does his best to be irritating, but is very well played and emerges being strangely likeable long before his elevation to apologetic hero towards the end.
This isn’t the greatest film of its kind, but it features a good cast and an excellent location. The fusion of World War and zombies continues apace, with once again bunkers and trenches and murky fields providing an excellent backdrop for the activities of the living dead.