October 28, 2003

house of the dead (2003)

director: uwe boll
starring: jurgen prochnow, jonathan cherry, ona grauer, ellie cornell, clint howard

this is jurgen prochnow's second foray into movies adapted from video games (wing commander being his first), and i hope he's learned his lesson. 'hey, i need a skipper for a boat. why don't we get the guy from das boot? and then we'll call him captain kirk because then we could make a lame star trek joke!' no, it doesn't get any better.

the basic premise: young, hot twenty-somethings are going to the biggest rave of the year on an island off the coast of seattle. five of them miss the ship to the island, so they charter a fishing boat, helmed by capt. kirk with his first mate, clint howard (oh, another trekkie reference, how clever). it seems the coast guard wants prochnow for something, but they outrun the coast guard and make it to the island, albeit a bit late for the party.

well, what's left of the party, which consisted primarily of a dj and his turntable, some alcohol, a bunch of tents, and about 100 crazy kids. oh, and a giant sega banner. doesn't that just scream 'biggest rave of the year?' i thought so. they all get massacred by zombies, which we learn by viewing it through a guy's camcorder who happened to record it and escape.

well, after preparing their strategy during some oh-so-well-timed exposition to attempt to shake up some semblence of a backstory, the zombies start attacking, the kids freak out, and it turns out that captain kirk is a gun smuggler! so everybody arms themselves to the teeth for the big action setpiece that takes place... halfway through the movie.

i get tired of reminding action directors of this, but save your spectacle for the end, especially if you have little else to fall back on. it's about a ten minute long sequence where the kids, now expert shots with all varieties of weapons, unleash their firepower on the undead. there's even an asian girl who escaped the rave who knows kung fu! with lots of poorly done cgi matrix-on-the-cheap effects, this sequence bores. it's not even that gory. about the only good shot is watching jurgen prochnow in his skipper's cap and slicker shooting zombies with his akimbo pistols, but that's only because it's kinda funny.

after that, we have to go through more backstory (we're not even going to mention the trite and unnecessary romance subplots) to find out why the zombies are there. there are never really good reasons to have zombies. just leave it to a nuclear accident, some weird voodoun curse from long ago, or don't try to explain it at all. the third act is just killing off the main characters one by one until they end up having to face the main bad guy (and you knew there would be a boss character since it's based on a video game).

and it's not like i'm giving anything away, sinec the movie is a flashback that begins with narration from the main kid that says that all of his friends are dead. this robs the viewer of a simple pleasure gained from watching even pisspoor zombie films: who is ultimately going to survive.

as one of the characters in the film says right after the rave attack, 'the sooner we accept the fact that these are zombies, the sooner we can all get out of here.' i couldn't have agreed with her more, but the two other people in the theater and i stayed until the end anyway.

rating: 2/10

Posted by kilgore at October 28, 2003 03:59 AM | TrackBack
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