House of the Dead

Fake looking zombie

House of the Dead is a serious contender for worst film ever. The film is based on the game of the same name, which gives some cause for concern, as the game is a brainless shooter with no discernible plot. Sadly the film does remain faithful to the game in this regard. An awful pasted together series of ripped off scenes, ridiculous dialogue and laughable attempts at acting are brought together here by a demented director and it is painful to endure.

At the start of the film we are introduced to some of the characters with some cringingly bad narration about their backgrounds which you immediately forget. The scene is pretty obvious, bunch of stupid American teenagers, haunted island full of zombies, bring the two together by holding a rave on the island and stir. That could have been the original plot synopsis.

Near the start of the film comes the one true horror moment, the kid from Gentle Ben as a scurvy old boat man complete with hook hand. Despite turning up late the kids persuade a dodgy Captain Kirk, seriously, to take them to the island of death. They turn up, everyone´s dead there´s some running, some guns, loads of fake blood and the peripheral characters all die.

I think it is difficult to get across how bad this really is so one step at a time I´ll try to explain. Firstly the acting - it starts out very bad, like you actually feel embarrassed watching it, and then it gets worse. Every one of the stupid teenagers is completely and utterly without any acting talent, I know this is commonly the case in horror movies but believe me you haven´t seen it this bad. The only guy I recognised, other than the traumatising Gentle Ben kid was Captain Kirk who I am sure has played Nazi´s before and probably shouldn´t have had anything to do with this pile of crap.

Then there´s the writing, the drivel served up here is astoundingly bad. None of the dialogue is even remotely convincing, there are loads of randomly introduced characters that get explained in thirty seconds and then die. The film doesn´t really seem to follow a main story; there are no motives for anyone´s actions, and the various threads are awkwardly combined. The character who narrates the start, whom you assume will be the main character drops out of the film for a good half hour or more after his awful introduction and you can easily forget who he is by the time he pops up again. We are treated to such jokes as the moron spewing up on his skanky girlfriend and then later getting covered in shit when a portaloo he is in gets tipped up, most annoyingly he continues to wear the shit covered shirt for the rest of the film.

You may at least demand, dispensing with story and credible acting, that you will get treated to some decent gore or creepy moments. Not here you won´t, most of the death scenes in the first half of the film are quick close up cuts with nothing to see, the deaths in the second half of the film are more graphic but poorly executed with terrible make-up and obviously fake blood. As for suspense, there is none, not a single jumpy moment, absolutely nothing to halt your laughing fit at how bad it all is.

The settings have a horror theme park look to them and the instant you see the plastic creepy house set they have built you know they will blow it up later in a stupid explosion finale sequence. Other classic locations include the graveyard, the forest and an underground tunnel. The sound is an awful mix of hard rock and hardcore techno. They even added sound effects from the game and a terrible sequence cut in time to the speeding beat of a techno track.

Finally and worst of all is the direction. There is nothing original to see here at all simply a bad rehash of lots of familiar scenes that don´t fit together. A scene from Jaws is ripped off wholesale, a quick camera angle from the Blair Witch, a slowed down time effect from the Matrix (like that hasn´t been done enough yet). The director seems to be so fond of the slowed down time effect that he uses it constantly and ensures that it loses all impact. All of them are done so badly that they become insults to the original. The director has also chosen to bizarrely cut in scenes from the actual game, the game looks terrible but in a different way to the film, and for the most part he hasn´t even tried to sync them in any way, they are just random cuts to increase the sense of disjointed nonsense. The range of screen wipes used cannot be overlooked either and they do a tremendous job of giving the production an amateurish feel.

This film should never have been made, the game isn´t suitable material to base a film on, the acting is vomit inducing, the writing is moronic, the direction is painfully shite, every aspect of the film is really badly done. I recommend you never watch this and I would be prepared to pay money to ensure that everyone involved with this film never gets the chance to pollute my viewing again.


Reviewed by Simon Hill

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