An older, rarely-used maxim here at Missile Test is that we have never met a movie we wouldn’t watch…for at least fifteen minutes. It’s a test. Sometimes a movie is so bad early on, so clear that it’s an unwatchable mess, that fifteen minutes is all it takes for one to know it’s not worth spending any more time with. I managed to make it through an hour of this piece of shit before abandoning it, but that was only because of my own stubbornness. This awful movie failed the fifteen-minute test.
From writer/director Matt Mitchell, The Rizen: Possession is the sequel to his 2017 film, The Rizen. I haven’t seen that flick, so the fact that Possession is an incomprehensible mess might be due to missing some important backstory. However, no sequel should be so opaque that viewers who haven’t seen what came before would be hopelessly lost.
Not that seeing the first film would have helped matters. On the surface, this is a film about a group of urban explorers who enter an old underground government research facility, where bad things happen. But there is also a secret government conspiracy, black ops, hallucinations, flashbacks, false memories, ghosts, zombies, and whatever else Mitchell could throw up to confuse viewers before, presumably, he wrapped it all up with a bow at the end. I’ll never know if that destination was worth the journey.
A good mindfuck film is a wonderful thing. The storyteller carries a viewer along using misdirection, and then there’s a knockout blow when the viewer realizes what’s really happening. It’s tough for storytellers to do well. They run the risk of making something senseless with little narrative, instead relying on a last act twist to do all the heavy lifting for them. That’s the case with this film. There is a lot of running around and shouting by characters, but little effort to establish that necessary narrative, or counter-narrative, that will be useful in the climax.
This movie also had a paltry budget of around £150,000, and it shows. The sets, what little of them there are, consist mostly of the same bleak hallway shot from different angles, with low lighting to help keep a viewer from noticing. A miniscule budget doesn’t have to be bad for a movie, but Mitchell was forced to resort to cheap trickery that would be more at home in a SyFy quickie rather than a magnum opus. The suspension of disbelief required by the viewer is high, and takes much more effort than the film is worth.
At least there is some blood and gore on offer for the horror fan. But, that’s it. Seeing a mummy-headed monster rip out someone’s intestines doesn’t make up for the surrounding jumble.
The Rizen: Possession is an unwatchable mess. It has no regard for a viewer’s attention span, which is a serious problem in the age of smartphones. I can only imagine this film’s festival premiere in 2019. The theater must have had a soft blue glow from everyone who checked out of this movie. It’s bad, bad, bad.
The Rizen: Possession falls into the lower depths of the Watchability Index, landing amongst the worst of the worst at #338, displacing Spice World. Stay away. You’ve been warned.