Two college students, Simon (Tyron Leitso) and Greg (Will Sanderson), take a boat to an island to attend a rave. They meet up with three girls: Alicia (Ona Grauer), Karma (Enuka Okuma) and Cynthia (Sonya Salomaa). Karma has a crush on Simon, Simon has a crush on Alicia, and Cynthia is Greg's girlfriend. When the five arrive at the dock, they find that they are late and the boat that is supposed to take them to the island called "Isla de los Muertos" (Spanish for "Island of the Dead"), has already left. A man named Victor Kirk (Jürgen Prochnow) and his first mate Salish (Clint Howard) offer them a ride. As they leave, a policewoman named Jordan Casper (Ellie Cornell) tries to stop them from leaving, knowing of Kirk's past as a smuggler, but fails.
Arriving at Isla Dela Muerte, they find the rave site messed up and deserted. Alicia, Karma and Simon leave the site to go find anybody around while Cynthia and Greg stay behind. As Greg and Cynthia are about to make out in a tent, the former leaves to urinate. Alone in the tent, Cynthia is killed by a group of zombies. Meanwhile, Alicia, Karma and Simon find an old house and as they attempt to investigate the place, they discover Rudy (Jonathan Cherry), Liberty (Kira Clavell) and Hugh (Michael Eklund), who tell them that zombies attacked the rave, killing everyone. Alicia and Rudy used to date and Liberty was a dancer at the rave. The six leave the house to fetch Greg and Cynthia. Meanwhile, the zombies kill Salish when he is alone in the forest.
Alicia, Rudy, Karma, Simon, Liberty and Hugh return to the rave site and find Greg. A zombified Cynthia comes out from behind a tree and kills Hugh but is killed when Casper arrives and shoots her. They form a plan to return to Kirk's boat and leave the island. When they return to the beach they find only zombies on Kirk's boat. Casper and Greg leave the group to go find help, but Greg is killed in the forest. Kirk later takes the group to a spot in the forest where he has hidden a box full of guns and weaponry. Once everyone is armed, they decide to head back to the house. The front of the house is filled with zombies. Liberty and Casper are killed in the ensuing fight and Alicia, Rudy, Kirk, Karma and Simon manage to take shelter inside the house.
When Kirk is alone, he hears Salish whistling outside of the house. He goes outside and sees Salish as a zombie. Kirk sacrifices himself by killing Salish with a stick of dynamite, but the explosion also blows up the entrance to the house. The remaining four lock themselves in a lab in the house, but the zombies break in. Karma finds a hatch in the floor which she, Alicia and Rudy use to escape. Simon manages to sacrifice himself to kill the zombies by shooting a barrel of gunpowder, blowing up the house and the zombies. Alicia, Rudy and Karma find themselves in underground tunnels. They make their way through the tunnels, but Karma is killed by zombies as she attempts to hold them off as Rudy and Alicia flee.
Alicia and Rudy are aided by Greg to get out of the tunnels. Greg is actually an evil undead named Castillo Sermano, a Spanish priest from the 15th century who was banished from Spain for his evil experiments which the Catholic Church forbade, one of which was the immortality serum, which he injected himself with before he created the first zombie. Alicia and Rudy escape the tunnels, blowing them up in the process. Castillo manages to survive the blast and Alicia gets into a sword fight with him. Castillo stabs her in the heart wherein Rudy manages to decapitate him. While he thinks that it has all ended, the still-alive headless body of Castillo begins to strangle Rudy. Alicia who is barely alive gets up and crushes the head under her foot which finally kills him. Although Alicia seemingly dies, she and Rudy are rescued by a team of agents. The agents ask for Rudy's name, to which he responds with Rudolph "Curien". The ending narration reveals that Rudy gave Alicia the immortality serum and that is why she is alive. The two survivors return home.Jonathan Cherry as Rudolph "Rudy" Curien
Ona Grauer as Alicia
Enuka Okuma as Karma
Tyron Leitso as Simon
Will Sanderson as Greg
Clint Howard as Salish
Jürgen Prochnow as Captain Victor Kirk
Ellie Cornell as Jordan Casper
Michael Eklund as Hugh
Kira Clavell as Liberty
David Palffy as Castillo Sermano
Sonya Salomaa as Cynthia
Erica Parker as Johanna
House of the Dead grossed $10.2 million in the United States & Canada and $3.6 million in other countries, for a total gross of $13.8 million against its budget of $12 million.
In its opening weekend the film grossed $5.7 million, finishing sixth at the box office.
The film was panned by critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film was ranked as the 41st of the 100 worst reviewed films of the 2000s, with an approval rating of 3% based on 59 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "A grungy, disjointed, mostly brainless mess of a film, House of the Dead is nonetheless loaded with unintentional laughs." On Metacritic the film has a score of 15 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike". In 2009, Time listed the film on their list of top ten worst video games movies of all-time.
IGN gave it three out of five stars, citing it as "an unabashed B-movie that does an incredibly decent job with a limited budget, unknown cast, and routine storyline.
The film's soundtrack was released in late 2003 through ZYX Records. The album featured many bands from Boll's home country of Germany.Track listing
The film's score was composed by German composer Reinhard Besser. Besser would later compose the score for another Boll film in 2005 with Alone in the Dark. The score was released on March 29, 2013 through Playground Worldwide.Track listing
All tracks written by Reinhard Besser.
A director's cut of the film was released on DVD on September 8, 2008 distributed by Lionsgate. The new version features new dialogue, alternative takes, pop up commentary and animation from the original video game.