House of the Dead (2003) – Review

1/2 Star

“I think something bad’s happened here.”- dialogue from House of the Dead. The same phrase describes this wretched flick. House of the Dead is an utter mess, complete with amateurish actors floundering onscreen with no help from hands-off director Uwe Boll. To say this is filmmaking on auto-pilot gives a bad name to the aviation industry. This cross-over video-game/horror film adaption has been crafted with no sense of style or continuity. In the end House of the Dead is both meandering and frantic.

It’s spring break and a massive rave is happening on a deserted island that is only reachable by ferry. Five college students charter a boat to take them to the party, only to find the rave and island desolate except for the bloodthirsty zombies that have taken it over. Thus beginning a redundant experience in which the main characters search for weapons and hiding places to survive the swarm of undead. Turns out the zombified remains of a vengeful priest from the 1700’s has been killing whoever visits his island for over 200 years. Although the story is a weak rip off of Romero it is also shares a shameless resemblance to hallmarks in some of John Carpenter’s films. Of course absolute nothing in this movie is as remotely effective as anything in either of those genre kings flicks.

How inept is the filmmaking here? Well, let’s see. After the death of Cynthia, who is shot in the head while turning into a zombie, there is no payoff shot of her grieving boyfriend-furthermore the incident is never mentioned again. The real Pièce de résistance is the odd insertion of flashes from the Atari game that inspired the movie. Truth in reporting compels me to inform that these glimpsed make up no more than two minutes of total screen time, thats not the problem. The notion that the creative forces behind the scenes thought these inclusions were necessary, is in-itself mystifying.

There is one intriguing sequence in which tug boat Captain named Kirk (Jürgen Prochnow), not the guy from Star Trek, recounts a pirate tale that details the origins of the infested island. This section is lensed in a sepia tone and the elegant feel is exactly what the film cold have used more of. Although note to directors: putting a techno score over a chase scene doesn’t just automatically make it an action sequence.

“It looks like someone farted up there.” one character exclaims after coming across a bubbling hotspot of water. You said it, brother.

Director: Uwe Boll
Stars: Jonathan Cherry, Tyron Leitso, Erica Durance

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