Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
November 1st, 2019

Dead Trigger

Dead Trigger
Directed by Mike Cuff, Scott Windhauser
Written by Heinz Treschnitzer
Starring Dolph Lundgren, Autumn Reeser, Romeo Miller
91 mins

The story behind "Dead Trigger" is actually a fairly involved one, but to be honest, they had my attention with just four little words: Dolph Lundgren Zombie Movie. Yeah, that's enough to make any B-horror fan pull their face out of the popcorn bucket and take things seriously. Oh, but we've seen this kind of thing before, haven't we? We've seen clever ideas get struck down by shoddy execution. So will "Dead Trigger" fall into that camp?

"Dead Trigger" puts us in the middle of a doomsday proposition: a zombie apocalypse brought about by a virus that has both killed billions and turned an indeterminate amount of others into flesh-eating ghouls. How much overlap is in that particular Venn diagram is unclear, so we may be dealing with straight-up zombies or just "28 Days Later" style "rage-zombies." Anyway, the government--or what's left of it--wants to take back the planet, but can't do that with just anyone. So the government puts together a video game called--you guessed it--Dead Trigger to teach the populace how to survive in the new world horrorshow in which they now live. Some manage to distinguish themselves, and the government begins to assemble said players to put their newly-minted skills to work. But will it be enough to keep the horror at bay?

It's a clever enough idea. Start with "Dolph Lundgren zombie movie" and from there realize that this is one part "Night of the Living Dead" and one part Ernest Cline novel. Probably more "Armada" than "Ready Player One," but still. Throw in just a smidgen of "Starship Troopers" jingoism and you've got "Dead Trigger" in a nutshell. That's a stew that's hard to pass up.

The physics are a little scrambled--when Dolph Lundgren stabbed a zombie in the stomach and it fell over, I knew we were not in Kansas any more--but it's close enough for government work. However, watching the zombies absorb small arms fire with little trouble left me more than a smidgen confused. Just what kills these things, anyway?

Sadly, the execution does not live up to the premise's promise. It's not bad, I'll give them that much. It's reasonably well put together, and it's nothing to be ashamed of by any means. But an idea this good deserved proper funding and decent writing. There's shockingly little character development here. Strange things happen for little or no good reason, like the Texas sharpshooter who has a mishap with a 12-gauge. Zombie killing physics are seemingly random. And it only gets less coherent from there. Oh, and the quote for Isaiah 27:1 is complete nonsense. It's always a black mark against a movie when it can't accurately quote.

It's weak, but it's not without its charms. It's a great idea poorly executed, and that's a shame. This could have been something really impressive, but sadly, it just doesn't do all that well.

The ending features a couple fairly-standard doublecrosses and some mild twists. Sadly, explanations for many of the outstanding plot points will be short on the ground.

Special features include your choice of English or Spanish subtitles and trailers for "Black Water", "Day of the Dead: Bloodline", "Occupation", and "All the Devil's Men."

All told, "Dead Trigger" isn't bad, but it could have been a lot more than it was. That's the worst part about the whole thing; this could have been amazing, but sadly, we get little more than tepid, warmed-over slop of the kind we've seen dozens of times before. It's a real meatloaf movie, and it's one of the first times I've seen a straight-up meatloaf movie in a long time.