What a putrid mess. Dead Trigger, from 2017 but resting on a shelf until this year, is an adaptation of a video game. It’s not the worst video game adaptation I’ve ever seen (that title belt is, and very well always could be, held by House of the Dead), but, it is a properly awful movie. It’s a good thing for the shitty movie fan that this film stars Dolph Lundgren, who has been gracing productions like this for over 30 years. The man is a shitty movie legend — the Tom Brady of bottom feeding dreck.
Directing duties were split for this flick, between Mike Cuff and Scott Windhauser. According to the internet, so it must be true, this was due to creative conflicts. If Cuff left in a huff (heh-heh) because of creative conflicts, I have to wonder why he was so emotionally invested in this flick. He had to have known when he saw his budget, his sets, and his cast, that he wasn’t making the next Anaconda. Yet he chose to abandon this project out of artistic integrity? Come on, Mike.
It’s the near future — 2025. The zombie apocalypse began five years earlier, and humanity has reached a place of stasis. The zombie war goes on, but neither side seems to be winning. And that’s just fine for evil arms manufacturer Cyglobe. They are run by cold and calculating Gloria Russo (Tamara Braun). She’s happy with the fact that it is her company’s guns that are being used to hold back the zombie hordes, and hatches a nefarious plan to ensure the zombie war never ends.
Meanwhile, a disparate group of misfits, as clichéd as any one might find in a movie like this, is drafted by the military to become part of Contagion Special Unit (CSU), the military’s zombie killing squads.
The first we meet is Chris Northon (Chris Galya). His character is something of an anachronism. He looks and sounds straight out of the 1990s. Galya could have been a featured player in any number of 1990s teen dramas. Think Airborne or Can’t Hardly Wait. Basically, anything Seth Green has been in.
He’s joined by Romeo Miller, Justin Chon, Natali Yura and a couple of others. It doesn’t really matter. The film barely cares about these characters. Galya is even set up as the star, serving as the narrator, until about ten minutes in when Dolph Lundgren enters the picture. After that, it’s all Dolph, which might be connected to Cuff’s departure.
Lundgren plays Captain Kyle Walker. He was a cop in fictional Terminal City when the zombie outbreak began. After losing his family, he joined CSU and is now the film’s resident badass. It’s his job, along with Captain Rockstock (Isaiah Washington), Lieutenant Marchetti (Brooke Johnston), and Lieutenant Martinov (Oleg Taktarov), to whip these new recruits into shape. An abbreviated training montage follows, and then it’s on to the mission.
Back in Terminal City, a secret science lab has been working on a cure for zombie-ism, but they have suddenly gone incommunicado. It’s up to Walker and his team to infiltrate Terminal City and rescue any survivors.
The team goes right into the shit, and begins to lose cast members left and right. No one except Walker has any plot armor, and there are some surprising deaths in this act. In fact, the filmmakers packed a whole lot of movie into this first act. Most other movies would have run through their entire plot in what this film does in a half hour. Viewers shouldn’t be looking forward to a complicated cinematic epic, however. The remaining hour of this flick is filled with familiar tropes executed in the same, painful, fashion. Eventually, things move on to denouement, and if a viewer is still paying attention by then, they get a cookie.
There are movies from The Asylum that have a higher production quality than Dead Trigger. This film was so short of resources that all the muzzle flashes and bullet impacts are cheap CGI. The only real effects are makeup for the zombie horde. Most of the makeup work is okay, but watch closely and there are more than a few undead in this flick that look ridiculous.
Dead Trigger is among the cheapest of the cheap. Dolph Lundgren has been in a shitty action flick here and there that is entertaining. This isn’t one of them. Dead Trigger falls way down the Watchability Index, landing at #209, just above Reptilicus. Yeesh.