Alone in the Dark

Day Thirteen of the Two-Week Torturefest

I know I’m “Alone in the Dark” with no one to agree with me, but this one was so bad, it was actually kinda good.

Day Fourteen - Alone in the Dark

Directed by: Uwe Boll
Written by: Elan Mastai and Michael Roesch & Peter Scheerer
Based on: the video game Alone in the Dark by Infogrames and Krisalis
Edward Carnby: Christian Slater
Aline Cedrac: Tara Reid
Cmdr. Richard Burke Stephen Dorff

Distributed by Lionsgate Films on January 28, 2005. Produced in English by Germany and Canada. Runs 96 minutes. Rated R by the MPAA–graphic sci-fi violence, profanity, infrequent sexual situations.

Alone in the Dark was watched on December 27, 2012.

“This doesn’t make any sense.” –Cmdr. Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff)

(Editor’s note: Well said, but that’s what’s to love about it.)

Leave it to Uwe Boll to give Ed Wood credibility. At least Wood knew what he was doing with his films that made them so awful. Uwe Boll doesn’t, taking the “dramatic depth of a video game” cliché to the extreme, and directing a film career of almost entirely video game basis.

Alone in the Dark was his 2005 threat. It’s almost impressive how abysmal this film is, so much that it’s fun to watch crash into trees like a plane with a delirious pilot. Delirium seems to be Uwe Boll’s middle name here, to use one of the few movie clichés he doesn’t address.

Alone in the Dark carries an a plot that required almost no thought. The story is of evil spirits which are resurrected in the 21st century by archaeologists who get their hands on a strange fossil. Or something like that.

It has been in hibernation since 1962, after the legacy of a tribe last seen 10,000 years ago was demolished. Or something like that.

All of a sudden, these demons head toward an orphanage, attack all the little children, and turn them into black, muddy, hideous creatures, who terrorize their town. Or something like that.

I don’t know about you, but as I think this, I imagine Gremlins. You feed a Mogwai after midnight, it turns into a Gremlin. Similarly, you let a group of archaeologists get their hands on a rock no one’s dared to touch for over four decades…well, you’re dead.

The only flaw that actually makes Alone in the Dark difficult to watch at times is the pacing. Much of the latter half vacillates from so bad it’s good, to so bad it’s just boring. Everything else makes it a mindless guilty pleasure. Let’s run through those jawbreaking missteps, shall we?

– The characters carry semiautomatic weapons and don’t know how to shoot them. I don’t know how to use a gun, but you don’t swing the weapon around like a drunken idiot as you fire. It’s amazing the heroes never kill each other by mistake.

– In one scene, an archaeologist approaches a nun, who has her arm around the shoulder of a teenager girl wearing a shirt that cuts off a few inches above her waist. Some nun, not offended by this. Hey, why’s the scientist acting all nonchalant? This scenario is about as likely as seeing a hippopotamus try and catapult a giraffe over the Brooklyn Bridge.

– The old casting gimmick is used, in which a young, pretty, blonde woman dresses in a lab coat and glasses, and we’re expected to believe she’s a scientist. Better yet, she’s trusted in covering for an aging, revered scientist while he’s away.

– The music’s mentality is severely plagued by a multiple personality disorder. During combat scenes, we hear death metal. During tense lead-ins, we hear screeching violins. During a (particularly random) love scene, we hear “bubblegum pop.” And over the credits rolls ska rock.

– Too many clichés are addressed. What’s truly hysterical is when they’re incorrectly addressed. For example, in one scene, the blonde scientist finds her co-worker/boyfriend has come back from research on the Amazon. She punches him in the face and shouts, “I thought you were dead!” The correct answer is: make out with him and sigh in relief, “Oh, I thought you were dead!” If that’s too difficult to remember, use “make love, not war” as a mnemonic device.

– The characters have ADD, and it often shows at inopportune times. In one scene, a scientist is staring off into space in the middle of a museum, when suddenly, a gigantic, malformed creature arises from behind him. He doesn’t move a muscle, no matter how close it gets to him. He doesn’t turn around, and he only screams when it’s clearly eating him alive.

– CGI is poorly accomplished. Alone in the Dark is part action movie, part horror movie, all monster movie. The black, murky creatures that feature here are sped up to seem more dangerous. The one time we kind of wish he had stuck with cinema’s archetypes, in which the predator inches slowly toward its prey–stupid, but a) so is this movie and b) the technique is known to get the heart rate up. That’s not all: once the motion of these monsters is sped up, the entire sequences–for whatever reason–are sped up. It’s amusing to watch everyone run around like mice armed for some sort of apocalypse.

– The opening narration is intended to sound threatening. Instead, it sounds as if someone with absolutely no talent listened to Morgan Freeman’s narrations for nature documentaries, and modeled amateurishly from that.

Now I’m sure I missed several flaws that make Alone in the Dark such an abysmal movie. It certainly is flawed in nearly every possible way I can think of; I no longer wonder why Uwe Boll is considered the worst director alive. It’s a true guilty pleasure: no one sincerely loves it, but there’s something about it that gives you the urge to watch it once more. And that would be the humor that was never intended, while it makes up for all the asininity that was. At that level, I’d recommend it.

B MINUS


Staying Alive – the uncalled for sequel to “Saturday Night Fever” that almost completely contradicts its own title.

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