A disappointing zombie thriller, House of the Dead 2 aims to deliver the sort of grim action, gore, and violence horror fans have come to expect from the videogame series that inspired the film. Maintaining a suspension of disbelief throughout this constant carnage proves difficult even for hardcore fans as House of the Dead 2 is a constantly self-contradicting film that diminishes or dispatches with the themes and threats that drive most successful representations of the genre. Whilst the plot follows a specialized squad of zombie hunters--it's implied that the United States military has become accustomed to such scenarios, and zombification is regarded as an almost regular threat--few if any members of the team seem trained, equipped, or qualified to handle their assignment. Indeed, few of these characters are believable and none of them are likable, even when the script endeavors to provide them with inventive motivations. Only Emanuelle Vaugier, the bold and beautiful heroine, stands out and shows talent. House of the Dead 2 cancels an expected sense of scope and suspense simply because the spreading contagion that reanimates corpses is depicted not as an apocalyptic threat to humanity's very survival but as a lesser disease destined to be contained and cured--although, again, these assertions are later contradicted. Of course, this doesn't keep character after character from falling victim to the sizable zombie horde, which looks great thanks to some better-than-average make-up effects. As the non-stop action is set on a contaminated college campus, the opportunity for the sort of social commentary traditional to zombie stories is here but sadly all-but ignored. Instead, the film's setting is used only to set-up opportunities for cheap titillation and crude punch lines. Ultimately, this is all that House of the Dead 2 truly concerns itself with: sick satiation and even sicker jokes.
--Brian A. Dixon