Wednesday, 18 February 2015

House of the Dead 2 (2005)

This is a better film than the original House of the Dead.  Of course, that's praise so faint as to be invisible.

If pushed, I could probably come up with other positives.  The cast's solid, for instance.  I mean, no-one's going to win any Academy Awards or anything, but they do a pretty good job on the whole (it helps that I have a soft spot for Ed Quinn and Victoria Pratt, both of whom have major roles).  It's also a bit less blatant in being Aliens-with-Zombies than say Zombies: The Beginning was.

Those still aren't ringing endorsements, and honestly this is not a movie that deserves them.  It's mostly a functional enough zombie film, but it never aspires to be anything more than that.  We run through a lot of the same story beats and tropes as Resident Evil did: the initial infection, the failure to fully comprehend the threat, the poorly disciplined not-space marines, the countdown to an explosion, the tough lady soldier you know isn't going to make it, the traitor in the group, and the devastated city to wrap it all up.  Resident Evil, however, had a killer soundtrack, a genuinely creepy antagonist in the Red Queen, and much better staged action sequences.

The movie opens with a college panty raid.  One of the female victims storms off, only to be bludgeoned to death by her professor.  It's really not her night.  The professor needs a corpse so he can test a serum he has been working on: one he believes will restore life to the dead.  His motive for this is to restore his daughter, who is a zombie.  He's apparently an idiot though, since he doesn't restrain the dead women after injecting her and of course she Zeds up and eats his face.  Mostly this whole opening sequence seems to be an excuse to work in some gratuitous nudity.

We then get some time with the main characters of the film, a couple of operatives from 'AMS', an international organisation that attempts to stamp out any flare-ups of the zombie plague.  They team up with a bunch of special forces soldiers who may as well have 'cannon fodder' stencilled on their shirts and head to the now-overrun campus to check it out.  Their mission is to extract any survivors (guess how well they do on that?) and hopefully get a blood sample from the zombie 'patient zero' to use for vaccine research.  They're on a clock, though: the whole site will be flattened with missiles come morning.

That honestly sounds a bit more exciting than it actually is.  While the film does have one or two decent sequences, you'll mainly be rolling your eyes at how inept the soldiers are, and how much less funny zombie football players are than the script seems to think.

You can skip this unless you are a zombie tragic like me.

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