Steven Seagal takes a break from being the world's greatest ex-CIA operative and tries his hand at being Tao, the world's deadliest vampire/zombie hunter. Is the change of pace enough to make this movie better than his last few attempts?
In a word, no.
Anyone who's still watching Seagal's films is probably aware that the biggest problem with them isn't the star's increased girth, or even his legendary ego. It's the fact that Seagal can barely be bothered to show up in many of his movies over the last few years. Against the Dark continues this trend.
Last year's Kill Switch featured some of the worst editing I'd ever seen in a film, mainly in an attempt to hide the fact that Seagal wasn't doing 90% of the fight scenes. Against the Dark's editing isn't quite as painful but Seagal is even less present—you can almost count the scenes where he actually appears in a shot with another cast member on your fingers. I'm guessing he shot his part in his garage and then emailed it to the director.
This makes the fight scenes almost laughably entertaining. Seagal will waggle his sword in a shot by himself, and then the film will cut to one of the vampire/zombie creatures falling down, usually without even showing what hit it. Cut back to Seagal for some more sword-waggling, and then cut away to another zombie dying. Seagal's be-wigged body double is generally used for shots of him walking down a hall rather than fight scenes. Fortunately the film is so dark that sometimes it's hard to tell.
It's fairly indicative of the amount of effort that the man put into the film that the guy doing his voice gets a credit as "Tao Voice". Yes, Seagal couldn't even be bothered to do his own voice in the film.
This doesn't hurt the movie much because Seagal is barely more than a supporting character anyway. Unfortunately the rest of the film has about as much care put into it as Seagal's work. The plot is a slapdash affair ripped off from other, better zombie films. If you picture 28 Days Later or I am Legend shot entirely inside one dark building with a bunch of characters you won't be able to care about, then have Seagal show up to wave his sword in the dark a couple of times, you've pretty much imagined Against the Dark.
The vampires in the film are more like zombies; they look like zombies, they devour people rather than drinking their blood. Evidently they only come out at night, but since the characters in the film are hell-bent on traveling through the one building only at night (for some plot reasons that they forget about by the end of the film), their vampire characteristics are never very apparent.
The fact that outside of Seagal's badass vampire hunting team no one is smart enough to arm themselves with so much as piece of pipe or a chair leg will have you wondering how any of these people lasted a day in the post-apocalypse.
I give the director and editor credit for doing their best to make it look like Seagal was around, and the movie is less of a failure than Kill Switch was. If you're hooked on fast zombie movies and want to see Seagal blundering around one post-apocalyptic building in the dark you may want to give this film a look. It remains to be seen if the man will manage to put out an even worse film this year, but with at least two more straight-to-video movies arriving soon (one of which has a plot summary that currently describes him as "hungry for justice") he'll have plenty of chances. And keep an eye out for his reality TV show, Lawman. I'm betting it will be hilarious.