Uwe Boll is a bewildering paradox.
The relentlessly outspoken director may be almost solely responsible for single handedly keeping the reputation of Video Game adaptations completely submerged in shit, but he never let that stop him from churning out an endless stream of poorly made bilge throughout the noughties. Armed with skin thicker than a rhino and the energy of a porn star hooked up to a Monster energy drink drip, the man was a one man turkey machine, inexplicably working with such names as Christian Slater, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez and Ben Kingsley while usually directing, producing and writing his projects with seemingly no clue that what he was making was utter crap.
While he’d made a fair few films before the world at large were exposed to his particular talents, the movie that broke him (and in turn, us) to a larger audience was his first foray into video game movies, Sega’s shotgun pumping first person shooter, House Of The Dead.
Someone of presumably limited intelligence has decided to hold the “rave of the year” on the abandoned Isla De Morte off the coast of Seattle and while everyone there is partying out, a group of students arrive at the docks to find the boat they booked to take them has gone without them. The vapid quintet decide instead to carter the boat of the impressively shifty Captain Kirk (jesus…) to take them there much to the horror of his skeezy first mate Salish, but Kirk agrees mainly because he’s quite obviously a smuggler and the trip will take him away from the prying binoculars of Casper, a Coast Guard Officer who is wise to the old Butler’s tricks.
Upon arriving at said rave, however, they find that the rave mysteriously is as empty as cinemas showing a Uwe Boll festival and while two of their number stay behind to bone among the wreckage, the rest go off to explore the island. Eventually they find survivors in a derelict house – one of whom turns out to be the ex boyfriend of one of their number – and finally get filled in to what happened here. Short answer? Zombies. Zombies who can run like sprinters, jump like super soldiers, swim (for some reason) and can even gob corrosive shit at their victims like that spitting lizard in Jurassic Park and after some of their number succumb to lots of bity teeth, the rest knuckle up and try to survive. In the good news column, Casper catches up to them and proves to be quite the shot while the things Kirk was smuggling turn out to be varied guns of impressive fire power; however, in the bad section is the reason all this is happening in the first place; e.g an immortal Spanish priest named Castillo who’s been dicking around with weird experiments involving the dead since the 15th century. The only way out, it seems, is to shoot their way out – plus with some added Matrix style bullshit to make things look cool…
If your wondering how bad House Of The Dead truly is, allow me to describe it to you this way: it makes Paul Anderson’s first Resident Evil movie look like 28 Days Later.
The movie is virtually an unending torrent of baffling dialogue, awful line readings, clumsy action and endless scenes of people wandering in the woods that combine to make a film that boasts boundless energy at the cost of such things as intelligence, subtlety and anything even approaching filmmaking talent.
Featuring some recognizable faces such as Jurgan Prochnow, Clint Howard and Halloween 4’s Ellie Cornell (who must all be behind on a mortgage payment or something), everyone attacks the script with a detached sense of amused bewilderment as if they’re all having an out of body experience simply as a way to muscle through the shoot.
Boll’s attempt to try the movie with the Sega shooter of the same name is bizarre beyond belief. Aside from creating a similar atmosphere for mindless blasting, he opts to actually cut quick flashes of the actual video game into the movie which only has the effect of making you think your either having a particularly virulent flashback to arcades back in the late 90’s. Also he’s overly fond of utilizing droning, bored-sounding voice overs to attempt to patch up any of the legion of story telling errors almost as much as he uses painfully primitive bullet-time style camera swooshing in an attempt to make the action even harder to follow and making it an experience more obnoxious than being the only sober person at Keith Richards’ funeral (whenever that may happen – probably never).
The zombies look like they’ve all shuffled out of a second rate fancy costume store during a closing down sale and while old school horror fans may pick up the distinct tang of a creaky, 80’s, Italian, zombie gut cruncher among the shitty dialogue (“You created this to be immortal! Why?”) and inconsistent rules, there’s none of the fun that goes with it.
Instead we are expected to swallow a metric fuckton of plot holes that make the average trashy horror flick play like James Ellroy, for example: Why would an island off the coast of Seattle in 2003 still be named Isla De Morte? Why on earth does the biggest rave of the year only seem to have barely 50 people at it? Why are a bunch of vapid students all proficient in handling and firing a wide variety of guns? And why does a film based on a game that required you to aim a plastic shotgun at a video screen and pump it for all it’s worth end with a fucking sword fight?
Expect all these questions and more to remain stubbonly unanswered as House Of The Dead staggers through the motions like one of the intensely shitty zombies that populate it’s ratty runtime and instead of being the white knuckle blaster it should have been, this adaption of the popular video game simply shoots the shit.