Against the Dark (2009)
Damn you Steven Seagal! Growing up, you were the awesome uncle I never had. Anytime someone pissed you off or messed with “the family” you pulled out some kick ass ninja moves and made things right. Your always furrowed brow has not been able to cover the fact that most of your recent movies are direct-to-DVD duds. So maybe it is time to try a different genre; how about horror?
What could go wrong with Seagal fighting mutant vampire-like zombies in the world’s biggest hospital? Let’s look at the tag life for the film, “He Lives By The Sword, They Will Die By It.” Ok, I may have bitten off more than I can chew here. Let’s take a dive into Against The Dark and see what happens.
The story is a bit of a worn one. You have these “Hunters”, or extras from the Blade or Matrix series, following around a stout and weathered looking Tao played by Steven Seagal. The goon squad is tasked with exterminating these monster hybrids as most of the human race has been destroyed. The story follows two separate groups of survivors as they attempt to escape a hospital infested with the zom-pires (yes I made that up and will use it as I like).
This movie is about vampires, wait no it’s zombies, I think. Ok, so they are teeth grinding nocturnal mutants that do not seem to possess any special powers. I like the fact that the bad guys here are not exactly vampires or zombies but a cross of both. The make-up on most of the enemies was surprisingly believable and pretty gross. Now that we have established most of the good or interesting things in Against The Dark, how about the bad?
Ok so where the hell are we? This so called hospital is the size of New York City and makes no design sense. At one point a survivor attempts to justify their path by saying they need to make it out before a generator dies and locks them in. How does this make any sense when four of you just enter the hospital by breaking a solitary window?
Speaking of not making any sense at all: why is it no one chooses to arm themselves with anything for the duration of this movie? It is not like random items are sparse. We have an abandoned hospital, pick up a freaking crutch or chair. There is a point where this movie goes from WTF to “OK, obviously we threw darts at a board to choose how this story flows and whether or not we bother to explain anything”. Let me also mention, the WTF point is about 10 minutes into the feature.
Most of the acting is so bad and forgettable I will not bother mentioning many names in this steamer. The Hunters you say? They will stand out! Well yes, if by stand you mean the two hot chicks in leather that literally just stand around as Seagal dispatches enemies, then sure.
There is an actor by the name of Tanoai Reed who plays Tagart, Seagal’s sidekick. As the sidekick he will do most of the movement on screen. You need to remember that enemies come to Seagal to die, he does not move toward them. Most of the on screen martial arts will be performed by the big one’s sidekick as he is too busy swinging a sword about or using a shotgun. At least back in the day Seagal would pull off some intense neck or arm breaking.
So the world has been overrun and there is no one left but the hunters and a few survivors. Wait, what the hell is an entire army doing in existence when there is nothing to protect or defend? Even more, what the heck is Keith David doing commanding an army in this stinker? This was the dude who wrestled Roddy Piper in They Live, which is one of my cheese ball horror/Sci-Fi favorites. This dude has done a lot of good stuff like the original The Thing and continues to work actively in Hollywood. I guess he needed a quick paycheck or Seagal guilt tricked him by mentioning how awesome they were in 1990′s Marked for Death.
The effects just plain suck. Way too much CGI, but what can you expect from a direct to DVD masterpiece like this? I think once again I was hoping for something that was just not possible. There are plenty of movies out there without a theatrical releases that utilize more than blurry cam and crappy CGI. Like I said, guess I was asking too much.
Even the fight scenes with the zom-pires seemed boring and almost unneeded. The fact that no survivor bothered to arm themselves at any point did not help the crappy action. How do you expect to survive when you are so dumb that picking up a piece of wood does not cross your mind? Before I pop a brain vessel let’s move on.
So we have two separate stories, survivors and hunters. Wait, don’t forget the over-staffed military threatening to nuke the same area our last 15 living people occupy. Better yet forget the military bit, it never works and seemed too out of place. My only hope left was when these two groups crossed paths, something epic would happen. Oh and it did. The Hunters did the same lame crap and our survivors kept sucking at surviving. Sprinkle in some more crap CGI with poor acting and the movie is over.
I kept this one at five beers for a few reasons. The first was, I actually liked the dark atmosphere of the abandoned hospital. As I kept watching all I could think was what the hell does this remind me of? Then it kind of dawned on me. It was the Resident Evil game series. With the zom-pires always lying in wait, horrible dialog, and a massive unexpected locale it may have come off better than the actual Resident Evil movie. The other thing was the high hopes I had that were so quickly crushed. These hybrid killers could have been really cool… well the make-up was decent anyway.
If anyone is really looking to see this not so gem-like gem, check Netflix.
Take a Drink: anytime someone runs past an item that could have easily been used as defense.
Do a Shot: if you can spot The Rock’s cousin.
Pound a Cheap Beer: anytime Seagal blasts a shotgun.