As long as director Uwe Boll is given money to make films, we are guaranteed at least one unintentionally uproarious gut-buster a year. In the case of this year, good old Mr. Boll will be reigning down a second film on us this fall: Bloodrayne. If it’s somehow twice as good as Alone in the Dark, it’s still going to be a chore to sit through.
Alone in the Dark fails on basically every level of standard film making. Its indecipherable story (even with the help of an extended opening title sequence a la Star Wars that must last at least two minutes) is only run further into the ground by some of the most laughable acting in years (okay, since Boll’s 2003 effort, House of the Dead). Even with all the humor, this is still torturous.
I will do what I can in explaining the story. Edward Carnby (Slater) is a detective who tracks down paranormal activity here on Earth (think poor man’s Ghostbuster). At the beginning of the film he has a run-in with a creature that can only be described as a half human and half something else. He takes the bullets and keeps on coming. The creature was after an artifact from the long-dead Abskani culture, who, as we learn, were far more technologically advanced than other civilizations from some 10,000 years ago. The culture vanished without a trace.
Edward eventually brings the artifact to Aline Cedrac (Reid), and archaeologist who quickly assembles the pieces to the puzzle. The ancient Abskanis, strange alien-type creatures, are planning to re-emerge on Earth through a portal (it leads to Hell on our end, of course) to take over the world. There is also a lame subplot involving Edward’s ex-government employer, department 713, and their involvement with the impending doom.
The screenplay manages to dance around this bizarre story for the better part of the film’s runtime without reaching any conclusion whatsoever. Instead, we get an ungodly mess of action scenes, so badly directed and performed that one can only roll their eyes, laugh, throw their arms up in frustration, or all three. All of this is, of course, punctuated by Boll’s patented use of horrible heavy metal music (and I am a heavy metal fan). There’s no rhythm, sense, or reason for any of it other than to pretend to be a cool action movie.
Even the Abskani creatures themselves disappoint on every level. They move around in what appears to be advanced Claymation, but that is only even when you can see them through the overly dark lighting. These creatures, unlike those in, say, Alien, never serve a purpose other than to be shot at. It is tough to have a villain that is completely undeveloped, and that I learned in Screenwriting 101 at glorious Ohio University.
All of the actors involved should be too embarrassed to appear in public, at least for the foreseeable future. Christian Slater was clearly desperate for a role of any kind, and he is totally hung out to dry with awful dialogue and really nothing to do other than to swing around the camera in his black trench coat. Slater at one time had a promising career, and this is not the film or role to put him back in the spotlight. Faring far worse is prolific party girl Tara Reid, who, as an archaeologist, elicits more laughs than most comedies that have come out recently. This is an off-the-scale miscast. But, she does get to utter some priceless lines of idiocy, with my two favorite being “it’s a cave” and “some doors are never meant to be opened.” Unfortunate souls who have seen the film will know exactly what I am talking about. Stephen Dorff, an actor who has exercised his talent in such films as Blade, only embarrasses himself with his very presence in this schlock.
Alone in the Dark is the very disaster that the anti-Uwe Boll movement has been waiting for. Unfortunately for us he keeps getting funding for doing the only the thing he can even attempt – video game adaptations. Alone in the Dark is just as bad as House Of The Dead, and I urge everyone to keep that in the back of their minds before even attempting to watch this mind-numbing exercise of idiocy. This film is a virtual lock for my Worst Films of 2005 list.
Studio: Lions Gate Films
Length: 96 Minutes
Rating: R for violence and language.
Theatrical Release: January 28, 2005
Directed by: Uwe Boll
Written by: Elan Mastai & Michael Roesch & Peter Scheerer.
Cast: Christian Slater, Tara Reid, Stephen Dorff, Frank C. Turner, Mathew Walker, Will Sanderson