Published on October 13th, 2003 | by Erich Becker0
Review: House of the Dead
One part of being an objective reviewer is to keep the opinions of other critics out of your head when you view a movie for review. Sure, there are parts of their review that sink into your head and pop up when you are actually viewing the film, but for the most part I try to keep everything separate. The pre-release press for House of the Dead was skimpy, but what was released wasn’t good at all. Director Uwe Boll has recently stated that he wants to make a movie based on the hit Dungeon Siege or WarCraft game series, I’m hear to beg and plead Microsoft and Blizzard, respectably, to never let this man within 100 feet of their licenses as House of the Dead now has the crown for worst video game adaptation…ever.
There isn’t just one part of the movie that stands out as the real downfall, there is so much wrong with this so-called-film that I don’t know where to begin. Absolutely no part of this movie is coherent at anytime during the excruciatingly long 90 minute running time what the producers call a script is nothing more than some fanboy fantasy of gratuitous nudity, extreme violence, and the tale of an action hero in a video game.
Our story starts off with a group of friends attempting to charter a boat from Captain Kirk (yes his name really is Captain Kirk and he doesn’t like Star Trek jokes). These over-sexed teens are attempting to hitch a ride to the rave of the century conveniently held on the Island of the Dead (cue evil music). The kids arrive on the island to find the party deserted, the beer on tap, and the guys realize they have tools in their pants that must be used, for fear of rust. Once they finally discover the cheapest zombies in Hollywood are roaming around, they gear up (how convenient that Captain Kirk is a weapons smuggler) and participate in one of the stupidest action sequences ever printed to film.
I originally wanted to give props to Artisan and Uwe Boll for bringing a game like House of the Dead to the big screen. It wouldn’t be an easy task for an arcade game only designed to eat quarters, but now all I see is a huge failure and a missed opportunity to cash in on one of videogaming’s most lucrative licenses.
As the film progresses the teens are picked off one by one, but as they die the lead characters don’t shed a single tear, in fact, after one teen blows himself up with gunpowder a simple, “He didn’t make it,” is all it takes for the grieving to end. Hell, at least the underwhelming House of 1000 Corpses had a respectable house, Dead‘s house looks more like a one bedroom painted grey with a blind groundskeeper, a far cry from the mansion featured in the game.
Most video game adaptations get a bad wrap because they are, in fact, based on video games, believe it or not, but where all those adaptations tried to bring in the masses House of the Dead flaunts the movie’s roots in the stupidest way possible. Between scene transitions the film actually includes clips from the video game, and while this might be okay for stylistic reasons, some of the clips they use prominently feature “Free Play” and other arcade notifications at the bottom of the screen. It looks like some guy with a DV camera filmed some other guy get his butt handed to him and then spliced it into a low-budget horror film.
But what is a horror film without the horror? The zombies, as stated before, are so cheap looking, they look like actors with grey paint. It appears as though they attempted to include every horror cliché imaginable, but where Freddy vs. Jason made the cliché, campy horror genre funny, House of the Dead attempts to take these bits seriously leading to horrible dialog and terrible leaps in believability.
As the film begins the main characters are scared out of their minds. Zombies have just killed all of their friends, but put a gun and grenade in their hand and they become military trained experts landing aerial kicks, reloaded brutally fast, and, presumably, becoming extremely nauseated with the camera swinging around them like it does.
House of the Dead suffers from so much that the film isn’t even worth watching, your $6.50 would much better be spent heading over to the local arcade and logging in an hour’s worth of time with House of the Dead III. It would be a much more rewarding experience and cause much less frustration. Don’t even see this film if you are a fan of the series.