Steven Seagal - Tao
Tanoai Reed - Tagart
Jenna Harrison - Dorothy
Danny Midwinter - Morgan
Emma Catherwood - Amelia
Stephen Hagan - Ricky
Daniel Percival - Dylan
Skye Bennett - Charlotte
Linden Ashby - Cross
Keith David - Lt. Waters
Genre - Horror/Science Fiction/Action
Running Time - 97 Minutes
Score - 2 Howls Outta 4
PLOT - AGAINST THE DARK is pretty much a 28 DAYS LATER/BLADE hybrid ripoff starring Steven Seagal, who plays the leader of a group of Hunters named Tao - a master swordsman who whispers, grunts, and drops the occasional F-bomb just for effect. Tao and his squad [which includes a Rock-look alike (Tanoai Reed) and two hot chicks that do jack shit] are in the middle of a world where some incurable virus has infected much of the population, turning them into flesh-eating, angry sons of bitches who act like vampires but are probably zombies. Hell, I'm not even sure.
Anyway, a group of uninfected individuals trapped inside a hospital fend for themselves amongst the infected as they try to escape the premises alive before the government decides to blow them up, THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD style. Will they get out in time? Will the infected become the new majority? Will Steven Seagal lose whatever dignity he has left, or will he put himself back in the spotlight like he's been putting on weight?
STORY - Here's one of those films that sounds great on paper but doesn't totally execute it properly otherwise. Who wouldn't want to see Steven Seagal kicking some vampiric zombie ass for 97 minutes? I know I would. But there's a problem. You see, Seagal is barely in this film! For the star of the film, he probably has maybe 15 minutes of screen time total. Can you say "misleading the public"? And he barely kicks ass this film anyway! And when he does, it's either edited with quick cuts or he pretty much swings his sword at the camera making us believe he's actually fighting zombies and shit. Very disappointing, I gotta say.
And the screenplay by Matthew Klickstein takes the usual zombie setup with the trapped characters. They're likeable enough, thankfully, but we barely know much about them. What we do know is that they like to argue, betray each other when given the chance, and do the dumbest things just to survive. Especially that one dude who decided to check the dark sewer to see if there was a way out there. Yeah, because evil infected people wouldn't want to hide in a dim and damp location in case some moron decides to check it out for whatever reason. Nice one there, asshole. Hell, the characterizations and dialogue were pretty much laughable in general. And when something interesting would come along, it would be swept under the rug and never discussed again. Oh well.
Also, why have a group of 4 Hunters when two of them [both hot chicks] don't do anything but stand there while the men do all the fighting? Sexist? Yeah. Disappointing? Yeah. Annoying? HELL YEAH! At least make them get naked or something. Geez. What a waste of fine ass.
At least the story wasn't totally horrible and I was entertained for the most part. It was just really generic and amateurish, even for a Direct-To-DVD feature. But I was expecting much worse and didn't get that. So I guess AGAINST THE DARK gets some kudos for that.
DIRECTION - While Richard Crudo does tend to infuse the film with stylistic techniques from time to time, the whole affair is pretty much "point and shoot" with slow motion bits as transitional devices. The editing is a bit weird, especially when the same transitional footage of the infected munching on flesh is used over and over and over again. But at least Crudo adds a drop of tension, some jump scares, and decent action sequences that don't involve Seagal. It gets the job done pretty much.
VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - The violence is pretty frequent in this one. Lots of blood. Lots of flesh being feasted upon. Limbs and heads flying off everywhere. Stabbings and fight sequences too. Not bad in the violence department. As for the sex and the language, no big deal. No one gets naked and I don't remember a lot of cussing.
ACTING - Pretty much a mixed bag, but better than what I was expecting from this flick. Steven Seagal cashed a paycheck just for walking, twirling a sword, and saying probably a total of five lines in the entire film. I wish I had a career like that. Tanoai Reed was pretty cool kicking ass and was a decent actor to boot. Jenna Harrison was cool too, although she was a bit awkward at reciting her lines at times. But she hit some nice emotional notes and was cute as well. Linden Ashby and Keith David deserve to star in better films than this but a check is a check. In this economy, I don't blame either one of them. Everyone else in the case did their roles pretty well on different levels.
MUSIC - There was music in this film? Gee, I couldn't tell you what it was if there was any.
THE FINAL HOWL
AGAINST THE DARK was better than I was expecting, which was really low to begin with. Even though Steven Seagal is barely in this flick [not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing], the film has decent action and more than decent amounts of blood splattering. It's not gonna change anyone's world but it's a decent time filler for those wanting to waste 90-plus minutes of their lives.