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Review by Dustin Putman
1 star out of 4
After a solid year for horror films with such low-budget successes
as "May," "House of 1000 Corpses," "Wrong Turn," and "Cabin Fever,"
leave it to first-time hack director Uwe Boll to single-handedly sink
the genre's currently hi gh GPA. Based on the Sega Dreamcast video
game, "House of the Dead" exhibits all of the things one should avoid
when making a horror movie. It's cheesy, lame, embarrassingly acted,
sloppily written, and totally unscary.
Five Seattle-based friends who are supposed to be in their early twenties
but look closer to thirty hop on a boat to take them to a large-scale
rave happening on a nearby island. When they arrive, however, they
find the decorations up but the place mysteriously deserted. Of course,
they think nothing of it, and before long Cynthia (Sonya Solomaa)
and Greg (Will Sanderson) are having a go at each other in a tent.
Then the resurrected corpses from the island cemetery arrive to crash
the party. With the help of coast guard cop Jordan Casper (Ellie Cornell),
the stranded "kids" must fight to survive the night.
The zombie genre is one not often utilized in studio productions,
probably because of their noted problems with the MPAA board, and
so there was promi se in the storyline of "House of the Dead." Had
director Uwe Boll concentrated on the realities of the horrific situation
and the characters involved, he would have been off to a good start.
Instead, he reaches for the lowest common denominator in filmmaking
at every turn, going as far as using clips of the video game itself
to act as scene transitions. It gets old very fast, as does its bullet-time
sequences (a direct rip-off of "The Matrix") and frozen motion camera
movements. And finally, if you were being chased by an endless gaggle
of rotting zombies, would you (A) be freaking out and trying to stay
alive, or (B) find it the appropriate time to strike up a romance?
In the case of two different sets of characters, they inanely find
the latter choice to be the sensible one.
The mostly no-name actors whom we may rightfully never see again in
another motion picture are not worth mentioning, except to say that
they are laughably bad. It's nice to see Ellie Cornell again, whom
yo u may remember as Rachel, little Jamie's teenage stepsister, in
"Halloween 4" and "Halloween 5," but she is admittedly not much better
than her younger co-stars. And what, pray tell, are veteran actors
Clint Howard and Jurgen Prochnow doing in this hogwash?
"House of the Dead" is the type of film that gives horror movies a
bad name. While fast-paced (the movie is essentially one long chase
scene), there is no sense of timing. No effective suspense or scares.
Characters as dumb as a box of hair and as thin as a slice of cheese.
And, just for good measure, a cloying rap song pops up during the
film's most violent fight scene. Yeah, that'll have viewers awake
at night. If "House of the Dead" achieves anything, it is possibly
two cinematic world records: the highest amount of editing cuts in
a single minute, and the most bullets fired in the course of 90 minutes.
When you have time to think about things like this during a horror
flick, you know it's not doing its job correctly. To make matters
even more dire, "House of the Dead" ends on a stupid cliffhanging
note that suggests a future sequel may be upon us. If there is a God,
such a frightening proposition will never reach fruition.
Copyright © 2003 Dustin Putman