Alone In The Dark

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Sometimes, you just know the movie you’re about to watch is going to be a rough ride, but every now and then you get a movie that’s so bad, it seems to passively aggressively mock you before the film even starts.
Welcome back to Uwe Boll country.
After House Of The Dead – his 2003 attempt to prove to the world that to make a film based on a video game, you don’t actually have to have a clue how either movies of video games work – the auteur of awful decided to tackle another game adaption presumably to prove that his previous effort wasn’t some hideous fluke. Despite a noticably higher budget (somehow) and a better cast (again, somehow), Alone In The Dark immediately puts you on the wrong foot by unleashing an opening crawl that lasts an ungodly one minute and thirty seconds that explains all of the movie’s complicated back story (with voice over, naturally) so Uwe doesn’t have to and then presents you with the legend: An Uwe Boll Film. An? AN? I know that technically it’s correct (it’s pronounced OO-ver) but on the other hand it just looks weird and shouldn’t really be taking up so much of my attention before the film even starts. I mean, is the movie trying to make us hate it before it even starts? Rest assured, things get worse from here…

We’re introduced to Edward Carnby after he has a nightmare about his mysterious childhood on a plane. He’s a paranormal investigator who was formally an agent of Research Agency Bureau 713 and is the sort of guy who’ll casually tell a random kid about the very real monsters that lurk in the dark in an attempt to “protect” them when he’s most likely footing their parents with a humongous therapy bill. He’s on the lookout for artifacts from a lost native American tribe that disappeared around 10,000 years ago and on the way to get a recent find examined by his estranged assistant museum curator girlfriend, Aline Cedrac, he’s attacked by a mysterious assailant with superhuman strength.
As Edward realises he’s been targeted by some shadowy conspiracy, shifty Professor Lionel Hudgens has managed to retrieve a gold coffin from the ocean floor, but when the even shiftier ship’s crew decide to open it, it starts a chain reaction across the country that involves vicious, bity, supernatural lizard monsters and a decades old experiment involving mind controlling orphans which brings Bureau 713 out to play in order to contain it.
With tension between Edward and 713 commander Richard Burke rising to mix with the existing tension between Edward and Aline (not to mention the tension already in place between Boll and a rapidly bored audience), the trio have to work together to stop Hudgens finding a way to control the ancient lizard creatures for the usual, badly worked out, villain reasons and therefore save the world.

While you could debate that House Of The Dead is arguably a worse made film, at least its shockingly frequent moments of incompetence are amusing in a trashy sort of way. Alone In The Dark, however, should by all accounts, play at least a little bit better thanks to the addition of a bit more money and the inclusion of actors such as Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff, but the movie doesn’t even play particularly well as an example of so-bad-its-good with the rate of excitement lower than a mole’s nutsack.
The plot, both needlessly complicated and stupidly simple washes over you like white noice that almost hypnotizes you into being utterly unable to give a single shit about retaining any information about the film you’re watching and at numerous times you’ll realise that the only thing greater than your confusion about the what and the why of everything that’s unfolding is the fact that you’ll simply won’t care.
Slater sleepwalks through the role, presumably as this would be the only way he could muscle through production without lamenting the fact that he used to be in films like True Romance and Heathers, while Dorff weirdly attacks his role with a suprising amount of seriousness. However, both these actor’s coping mechanisms pale in the worrying blankness that washes over the face of Tara Reid every time she’s required to do or say anything. If she actually has any idea what any of the historical gobbldegook she’s required to say means, her empty facial features certainly don’t show it and pretty soon you become convinced that the threat of inhuman creatures the film presents is nothing compared to the endless, terrifying void building behind the actresses eyes. I guess appearing in six Sharknado movies is what managed to keep it spilling out and killing the universe…
World crushing existential angst aside, the movie keeps up a brisk regiment of bland action, boring plot twists and dialogue so blunt (“Once you make it down here alive, you’re already dead.”) a caveman could use it to twat a sabre tooth tiger to death.
To be honest with you all, I was never that familiar with the original Alone In The Dark series like I was with House Of The Dead, but from what I’ve heard, the source game is credited as the starting point for the genre of survival horror games and that without it, such giants such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill simply would and could not exist. So why exactly Boll was allowed to get his critic fighting mitts on it is something of pertinent question and his finished product somehow puts the video game adaption genre – a genre that in 2005 didn’t have that much love to start with – back at least five years.

With this genre, it’s sometimes forgivable to be dumb, loud or even sloppy, but being boring is an absolute no-no and Uwe Boll accomplishes all of it without trying…. which now occurs to me that that might have been the problem all along.

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