Main cast: Jonathan Cherry (Rudolph “Rudy” Curien), Ona Grauer (Alicia), Enuka Okuma (Karma), Tyron Leitso (Simon), Will Sanderson (Greg), Clint Howard (Salish), Jürgen Prochnow (Captain Victor Kirk), Michael Eklund (Hugh), Kira Clavell (Liberty), Sonya Salomaa (Cynthia), David Palffy (Castillo), and Ellie Cornell (Jordan Casper)
Director: Uwe Boll
Imagine my nausea when I realize, as the opening credits roll, that House of the Dead is directed by Hollywood’s biggest troll, Uwe Boll. You know, I can’t imagine why people still bankroll his films, as he always screw things up. This movie is a great opportunity for wonderfully stupid cheese, with the script by Mark A Altman and Dan Bates playfully referencing horror and science-fiction pop culture playfully. But Mr Ball still manages to ruin the whole thing.
But first, the story. We have a big group of actors who look way too old to be playing dumb teenagers, of which the only ones worth noting are Rudy and Alicia as it’s pretty obvious from the get go that these two will survive to the very end. These idiots miss the boat to this island where a rave party is being held, so they hire a boat to take them there. Everyone and everything tells them that the island is a nasty place – even the name of that place is “Death”. Naturally, nothing fazes these twits, so off they go, right to the arms of the zombie welcoming committee that has already killed almost everyone who arrived earlier. Jordan Casper, a cop who has tailed these teens to the island in hope of catching the captain of the boat who brought them there, finds herself babysitting these idiots.
Okay, the cast is pretty impressive as they manage to convincingly portray at least seven different varieties of plank and plywood here. Watching them get killed is like watching a bunch of cockroaches getting crushed by a steamroller – it’s not very satisfying, because their deaths seem more like the rightful way of nature in getting rid of imbeciles from our gene pool. And these characters are really stupid – my favorite is the idiot who sacrificed himself to thwart the zombies from getting the others… by blowing up the door of the house where these people are seeking shelter and letting the zombies in. Wait, I also love the final battle scene where our heroine duels with the villain in such a fake manner, muttering “Fuck you! Fuck you!” at regular intervals.
Stupidity is the staple of too many horror movies, yes, but in this one, the acting is atrociously wooden, killing whatever personality trait that the script called for in each character. And Mr Boll’s direction is as usual inept as hell. Most of the gore happens off-screen – someone didn’t pass Mr Boll the memo that this is a zombie movie and we all want the screen to be soaked with body bits – or replaced by a two-second animated reel from the video game that “inspired” this movie. The gore that does show up on screen look like they are put together in a shoestring budget. Actually, the entire movie looks like it is produced on a shoestring budget, giving the movie this unfortunate vibe more appropriate for barnyard theater productions.
And when this movie tries to pull off that defiant over-the-top thing, such as when the idiots suddenly burst into slow-motion The Matrix-style kung fu despite being mere teenagers, it fails miserably because Mr Boll has no sense of comedic timing. The bizarre slow-motion kung fu scene, for example, just drags on and on for almost ten minutes in tedious repetitiveness, failing to be even a little bit funny.
House of the Dead is like a reject Scooby-Doo episode, except, the Scooby-Doo cartoons are being deliberately funny and campy, and succeed in being so. This one is… sheesh, I don’t know what Mr Boll is trying to do here. This one is just another one of his many, many, many vomitous movie output designed to put money into his own pockets. What hasn’t that man been stopped by now?