The Rizen: Possession is not a good film, and that is a genuine shame because buried somewhere in there is the core of a good movie, but it’s lost, literally lost, in possibly one of the darkest movies ever released.
Not tonally dark, though the subject matter is far from cheerful, but literally so dark that watching this film during daylight hours is near impossible unless you have blackout curtains and live in a cellar. One of the gun battles, for instance, features people in black uniforms fighting in a pitch black corridor, lit only by the occasional beam of torchlight, giving you scant seconds to glimpse their opponents. The audience has no idea where this is taking place as the set is almost entirely invisible. There is no way to tell where the enemies are in relation to the soldiers because, as stated before, the set is almost entirely invisible.
A trademark of both badly made horror games, and badly made horror films, while darkness has its place in horror, making it so literally pitch black that your audience cannot actually see what is going on is a recipe for confusion and it simply doesn’t need to be this way. Plenty of other films are set underground without needing to resort to blinding the audience – Outpost, Death Trench, heck even Alien was a dark movie but you can still tell what’s going on.
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The other main problem with watching this film is that it is a sequel, and one that appears to lean quite heavily on the original for a lot of the backstory. The plot of The Rizen: Possession follows five civilians who go investigating an abandoned military base, only to find out that it isn’t quite as abandoned as they thought. Following them is a squad of soldiers who have been told to neutralise the wandering intruders and secure the base, but on arrival strange things are afoot, mysterious attackers make themselves known and even reality itself begins to blur as both groups begin to see and hear things that may or may not be real.
And this is where the plot unravels. Is this an alternate dimension? Repressed memories? Ghosts? Demons? Are they just cursed to live this over and over again? Are they reincarnations of characters from the first film? If so, then why does one of them not see any of these flashes to the alternate/historical dimension? There are clear references made to the original film, but nothing is explained particularly well which would suggest that watching the first film is not just recommended, it needs to be mandatory for an audience to have any hope of understanding what is happening.
The Rizen: Possession feels like a missed opportunity. It hints at plot threads and ideas that could have been far more interesting. Demons, mystical rituals, ghosts (maybe?) and a looming a threat to not just the Earth but other worlds as well. But instead audiences are presented with flat acting, difficult to care about characters, a confusing ending and simply the worst use of lighting seen since season 8 of Game of Thrones. Unless you’re a big fan of the original, this might be one to avoid.