Against The Dark (2009)
By: James Gillett on April 8, 2009  | 
Sony Pictures (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1:85:1 (16:9 Enhanced). English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1, Italian DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1. Arabic, Dutch English, English (FHI), French, Greek, Italian, Spanish Subtitles. 90 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Richard Crudo
Starring: Steven Seagal, Tanoai Reed, Jenna Harrison, Danny Midwinter
Screenplay: Mathew Klickstein
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
Seagal vs Vampires. It's an idea with such potential for awesomeness that it's a wonder nobody thought of it sooner. Based on that premise, this is something I've been looking forward to for some time. That was until I started thinking about all the other Direct to Video movies Steven Seagal has featured in recently (18 since 2001 with 2 others due out later this year). It was then my heart sank. If like me you've watched the occasional DTV Seagal flick, then you'll know the once popular action star's recent output has been tedious to say the least.

Can Against the Dark bring Seagal back into the light?

In Against the Dark, a virus that turns humans into blood thirsty mutants (the film insists they're not actually vampires but mutants, ala I Am Legend) sweeps through the world, leaving few uninfected. As a group of survivors try to make their way out of an abandoned hospital, it's up to Seagal and his team of 'hunters' to save the day (read: kill plenty of mutant vamps).

I'll start with the good news. Gore hounds are going to find something to enjoy here. If you like gratuitous shots of zombies/vamps feasting on flesh and intestines then look no further. In fact the first shot of the film is a close-up of just that. Though the movie is a little light on genuine scares, there's plenty of the red stuff flying around. At the very least it keeps things from getting too dull.

Now for the bad news. If you you're interested in this movie for the Seagal content like I was, chances are you're in for some disappointment. That's because he's barely in it. Yep, even though the film is sold as Steven Seagal vehicle, you'd be lucky if he's around for 1/3 of the running time. Strangely enough this might not be all bad since here he has about as much charisma as a plank of wood. Granted, Seagal has never been Mr Personality, but he once had an undeniable presence. In Against the Dark along with his other recent DTV fodder, he just looks bored. We do get plenty of shots of him waving a sword in the direction of the camera and a bit of slicing in the direction of the vamps, but mostly just a lot of him standing around looking constipated. He simply doesn't seem to be trying anymore, and it made me wonder: If he doesn't even care about his movie, should I?

The rest of the cast fair better for the most part, even if they're a little generic. Since Seagal can't seem to be bothered doing much, it's left to the The Rock's cousin Tanoai Reed to get physical with the mutant scum. His character Tagart makes up for some of Seagal's lethargy by kicking some vampire ass, but just isn't around enough to make enough of an impact. The real focus is on the small group of survivors trying to escape. The problem is they're so dull you'll forget about them as soon as the focus shifts. And since they're mostly around for the villains to munch, the filmmakers didn't seem to bother to develop them beyond two dimensions.

This I could forgive if the movie worked in the horror/action department. It doesn't. A lot of the action sequences are poorly staged and over edited. The horror moments aren't much better. The appearance of the mutant vamps isn't bad; memorable is a vamp that found it necessary to add some screws and nails to her jaw. The problem is that for the most part they're not all that menacing. And since they never seem to attack in large groups, you never get that sense of hopelessness or overwhelming odds. What's left is you waiting for the next survivor to get bitten or the next vamp to get dispatched. Interestingly a few comments are made during the film that since the mutants have taken over, the humans are now the monsters. I appreciate the attempt to add some depth to the proceedings, but a couple lines of dialogue don't change the fact that this is a run of the mill affair. Other than stealing another idea from I Am Legend which is another issue entirely, if they wanted to explore those kinds of ideas they need to do a little more than just mention them in passing.
The film is presented in 1:85:1 ananmophpic widescreen. The transfer is clean and sharp. Better than your average DTV movie.
The 5.1 mix is fine. Dialogue is clear and balanced. No complaints here.
Extra Features
There's a 9 minute behind the scenes featurette that offers very little. Better than nothing. You'll also find a few trailers from other Sony features.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Against the Dark isn't a total loss. There's certainly a novelty factor in seeing Seagal killing vamps, even if it's not the main focus of the movie. If you're in the mood for a mindless time-killer this could be worth a rental. Ultimately though, this is a missed opportunity. Really only Seagal fanatics and the curious need apply.

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