It just gets worse. I’ve seen three Uwe Boll films now. Three too many.
I actually rented Alone in the Dark (2005), starring the washed-up Christian Slater and sagging Tara Reid, a few years back, and then stumbled across House of the Dead (2003) last year on late-night television.
You’d think I would’ve learnt after enduring those two god-awful pictures – not to mention hearing about a petition being circulated to stop Boll from making any more films – to steer clear of anything else the man has had his dirty mits on.
But, no. I was sucked in by a pretty creepy DVD cover at the video store of a guy wearing a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque mask. It wasn’t until I got home I learned that the film was directed by the one and only Boll, Germany’s answer to Ed Wood.
His name was nowhere to be seen on the front of the case, only in very small print on the back. But still, I should’ve done my research before hiring.
There would’ve been other sure signs that the film was going to be a dog. For one, Boll has not only directed but written as well. And then there’s the ‘star’, Michael Pare.
As much as I loved him in that action-packed Streets of Fire (1984), the guy just can’t act, and proves it once again in Seed. Seemingly, the only director who will hire him these days is Boll, having also starred in his BloodRayne series, among others already released and those to be released. Oh, yeah, there’s more to come.
Here he plays Detective Matt Bishop, a tough-as-nails cop who becomes a broken man, tormented by the gruesome work of the masked serial killer he is trying to track down, Max Seed (Will Anderson), murderer of … wait for it … 666 people, and counting.
It must be stressed this is one of the sickest, most disturbing, albeit poorly-made flicks I’ve come across. It’s shamelessly gratuitous to the hilt – but at the same time loses some of the impact it is trying make in places with shoddy production.
It’s a torrid attempt at social commentary, one depicting the brutality of man.
The real torture though is imposed on whoever is stupid enough to sit through this trash (myself included). In amongst moments of perverted pleasure, we have a succession of drawn-out sequences with no purpose other than to push the running time out to feature-length. It’s tedious. Vastly under-edited.
It begins with Seed sitting on his couch watching disgusting, and apparently genuine, footage of dogs and other animals being tortured to death, courtesy of PETA. While I fast-forwarded through most of this, I was close to pulling the pin there and then. It was simply shocking.
But, what purpose did it have? Maybe Boll was trying to ram home the fact this Seed character was a truly deranged individual who enjoyed watching living things suffer – or, more to the point, simply trying to get a rise out of the viewer. (In most cases it would be a rise off their couch and over to the eject button).
Then we see a bunch of cops, including Bishop, sitting around watching more stomach-churning videos that Seed himself has shot of starving and ultimately dead maggot-riddled bodies decomposing. There’s a cockroach … then a rat … then a dog … then a human baby. Yes, a baby … and then finally a woman.
Fortunately, the special-effects are so cheap and nasty that when we get to the bare bones of the matter (so to speak) the realism factor is quite low. It’s almost like watching an old stop-motion documentary. Not something you would expect from 2007.
Then we have several more draining minutes of Bishop watching the video alone, breaking down and crying – Pare must’ve thought the Academy would come calling after that effort – followed by a few minutes more of him thumbing through newspaper clippings of Seed’s deadly work. In fact it’s the first of several appearances by the clippings.
Following ‘a lead’, Bishop and five cops make a trip out to Seed’s secluded country abode. After things are again dragged out with a long drive – ‘okay we get it, it’s out in the middle of knowhere!’ – the pace finally picks up when each of the uniformed officers are taken out one-by-one in bloody fashion by the madman before Bishop manages capture him and take him into custody.
But, not before he spends what seems like another few minutes simply getting the unconcious creep into the back of the police vehicle – and in total darkness so you can’t see anything anyway.
After thwarting an attempt by prison guards to obtain some ‘rear action’ from him, Seed, still masked, even on death row, is taken to the electric chair for his execution.
After more painfully drawn-out fumbling and bumbling by the guards, strapping him in, is when the real trouble strikes, when three attempts are made to fry him fail.
Now, in Boll’s wild world, it’s three strikes and the prisoner is out. Set free.
Not wanting this to occur the big warden Arnold Calgrove (played by the big Ralf Moeller, from Gladiator) demands that the resident doc, Parker Wickson (Jodelle Ferland), pronounce him dead and then bury him out in the penitentiary cemetery … alive … in a flimsy wooden box.
Suffice to say, Seed resurfaces, claws his way out of his casket and through the soft soil above, to seek revenge. First the doctor, then the warden.
Then it’s off to pay a visit to Det Bishop and his family including his wife Sandra (Thea Gill) and daughter Emily (Jodelle Ferland), which brings me to the young actress. Ferland has done quite a bit of work for someone who has just turned 15, but here, with Boll’s direction, puts in one of the all-time worst performances by a child actor.
After receiving a (nother) video featuring the front of his house from an unknown source, Bishop takes off home to check on his family. Once he gets there he discovers body parts in the bathtub. Now, at the time, you’re thinking ‘is it his wife and daughter?’. But, no mustn’t be, because Bishop has casually turned and walked out, gotten into his car and driven off.
Ah, nothing out of the ordinary here. That sort of thing happens every day of the week.
Without giving away too much more – you’ve just got to see it to believe it – Boll seemingly tries to throw in a Saw-like twist. But, it’s horrible. There’s no tension, no atmosphere, and no characters you actually give a shit about – even the little girl, due to that terrible acting.
At least it meant the end of the film. Sadly, though it hasn’t meant the end of Boll’s career – yet. Now someone hand me that petition. He must be stopped.
In a few words: Even bad for Uwe Boll. That’s as bad as it gets.