House Of The Dead (2003)

Rating: **
Release Date: 10/10/03
Director: Uwe Boll
Cast: Jonathan Cherry, Ona Grauer, Kira Clavell, Jurgen Prochnow, Clint Howard, Ellie Cornell

sigh. Another video game film adaptation that has absolutely nothing to do with the video game that it's supposedly based on. For whatever reasons, Sega is sponsoring the biggest rave party of the year on a deserted island in the San Juans called Isla del Muerte - the island of the dead. (wait a minute, isn't this movie called "House Of The Dead?") A group of stragglers miss their boat to the party, so they enlist the aid of a reluctant smuggler (an appropriately grizzled Jurgen Prochnow) to take them over to the island. When they get there, the rave is in shambles and all of the people have disappeared. Hmmm, where could they have gone? As it turns out, the island is teeming with reanimated corpses who have crashed the party by killing everyone. So our band of attractive and dislikable young people have to find a way off the island before they end up as dessert.

Why do video game movies always turn out like this? Doesn't anyone respect the material, or are movie producers only looking for name recognition? Where's Dr. Curien? Goldman? The dogs of the AMS? Only in the last ten seconds of the film does any connection to the video game occur, although I will admit that it's a very clever punchline. This is one of those movies where it's more entertaining to think of adjectives to describe the film than it is to watch it. I think my favorite description is "unfathomably bad." How and why did this film ever get made? The writing and acting are atrocious, and the film is shot and edited like a bad music video. It sets a bad precedent, as this is the same team that's going to butcher the "Alone In The Dark" and "Bloodrayne" movies as well. However, its one redeeming feature is having cuties Ona Grauer and Kira Clavell shoot guns and show off their perky breasts, so that's nice. And what about the zombies? What's up with them? These are not your run of the mill shuffling undead that are looking for brains to munch on - they're extremely fast and agile, and seem to only exist to kill the living. They're not interested in eating people, and they even act as an intelligent, sentient collective. As such, none of the film ever makes any particular sense. Even worse is the fact that video game footage is used for some of the action scenes and wipes. That's NEVER a good sign.

And yet, the film has a certain schlocky B-movie charm to it, making it not completely intolerable to watch. The awful dialog and unbelievable character behavior is as fascinating as it is terrible. The film is littered with such gems as a girl who is lost in the forest looking for her boyfriend who has mysteriously disappeared. She stumbles across a creepy graveyard with an imposing church that hasn't been visited in over a century. "I know, he must be hiding in that creepy old church." Pleased with her infallible deductive reasoning, she starts investigating the decrepit building, only to become one of the film's first victims. And let's not forget the film's most laughable character, an underwear model who is more worried about damaging his face than getting off the island alive. If nothing else, the film enforces the notion that stupid people deserve to die.