Against the Dark (2009)

Have you ever read a movie’s summary or watched a trailer and though, “Oh, this is going to be awful”? I get that feeling a lot–most recently I’m looking at you, Joe Bell. In this particular case, picture this: Mr. Steven Seagal well past his prime, wielding a katana, fighting vampires. That sounds awful! Amazingly awful! Add in a director known for Donnie Darko (as the camera operator) and a writer who never wrote any other full length films and you have a recipe for disaster. Steven Seagal is… Against the Dark!

After an opening narration that tells us a plague of vampires has destroyed most of civilization, we see a kid being chased by snarling bloodsuckers. He’s saved by Seagal and his slaying pals, the we cut to some other people breaking into… I think it’s a hospital. And then a different lady having a vision, or something? And then military personnel? Who are all these people? Give me more than one name before you show me a dozen more characters! We don’t even learn Seagal’s character’s name until 50 minutes in–it’s Tao, by the way. The whole movie is like this, disjointed and poorly edited. The gist of it is a group of survivors meet in up a building the military is planning on bombing, and the vampire hunters have to save them before sunrise. But because it’s a zombie movie, not everyone makes it out alive.

Sorry, am I contradicting myself? Well the movie’s not helping things. These are clearly zombies–a small bite will infect you, they eat human flesh, and are generally stupid–but the movie has one or two throwaway lines that say, “Nope, those are actually vampires.” IMDB says Seagal threw a fit and had them change the story from zombies to vampires, but I can find no source on that. I don’t necessarily believe the temper tantrum part, but the original script to this must’ve been all about zombies. To muddy the waters even more, one “infected” boasts about how they’ve evolved, and now they can think and plan. Big deal for zombies, but an embarrassing admission for most vampires. All this is clearly copying off of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, which is a story of the last human trying to survive in a world overrun with evolving vampires. I’ll go more into this when I inevitably cover Will Smith’s I Am Legend and all the other adaptations of that novel, but this would be considered a bad adaptation.

This is just a neverending parade of stupidity. The opening narration says that no one was immune to the zompire virus, but several characters talk about knowing people who apparently immunity. The fight scenes are awful and you can clearly tell when Seagal completely misses a vambie with his katana. At least you can tell when the editing isn’t jarringly cut up to hide those misses. Keith David’s a military general or whatever–and is wasted in this–who orders the bombing of the building despite no sign that the hunters and civilians escaped, but still pats himself on the back when he finds out they got out before they became collateral damage. What exactly did you do to help them…? But the cherry on top is when one survivor near the end comes across a little boy and is for some reason absolutely convinced he’s not infected. Nope, just a regular healthy little boy standing alone in the basement of a zompire infested hospital! He bites her, because of fucking course he was infected. She shows up at the climax and talks about how this isn’t a disease and she’s never felt more alive, then gets shot in the head. Well that was anticlimactic.

This was awful. And yet IMDB says it’s better than Steven Seagal is Attack Force, where he fights aliens. His name in that is “Marshall Lawson?” Deliciously terrible. Definitely not hitting that one next, but that’s going on the to-do list. Thanks, Tubi! What would I watch without you?

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