Uwe Boll, the mastermind behind 2003's god-awful "House of the Dead" and specialist of videogame-to-movie adaptations has returned with “Alone in Dark,” his newest failure based on the popular Atari videogame. “BloodRayne” is on the way.
"Alone in the Dark" begins with an incredibly long voice-over prologue so exhaustive that Mr. Boll may have invented the first book-on-screen movie. A narrator drones on and on and on about a third dimension of some sort, and a 10,000-year-old Native-American civilization called the Abskani that messed around with CGI-inspired monsters and paid a heavy price for it.
Continuing, the narrator mentions a secret government agency run by an evil scientist (Mathew Walker) that began doing experiments on 20 orphaned children above a gold mine a few decades back. Inside the gold mine is a portal to the third dimension where the monsters dwell.
Christian Slater plays Edward Carnby, a "paranormal investigator" who is super proficient at kung fu and flip-kicking. He was among the experimented orphans twenty-something years ago, and is now grown up to dish out lines like, "being afraid of the dark is what keeps most of us alive." And "children are taught to be afraid of what harms them; people tell them there's nothing to be afraid of, but that's a lie." And, "always fear the dark!"
Carnby used to work for Bureau 713, a heavily armed assault team that uses photon-laced bullets to battle monsters and demons. I'm not sure where the funding for all those flat-screen panels, photon bullets and creature-scanners comes from, but they've got all the nifty gadgets. Maybe the agents sell cookies during the summer.
Bureau 713 is now led by Agent Burke (Stephen Dorff) who doesn't get along with Carnby. Why? We don't know. They used to work together. Now they don't. But Carnby is still a paranormal investigator so it's okay that he tags along, gets access to top secret files, and uses the Bureau's weapons.
And using those weapons to fight monsters is about three fourths of the film. Burke and his men attempt to recreate "Starship Troopers" before going into the gold mine, only here the dialogue is overpowered by horrible German heavy metal music.
Maybe that's a good thing because no dialogue up to this point suggests brilliance. The CGI and overall design of the monsters aren't bad, but like so many movies this one prefers not to show them very often; in fact most of them they're invisible up until the point of attack, when they proceed to rip into their victims. Repeat this process over and over until redundancy and you've got the whole concept of the movie.
Putting up with the work of Boll is pretty frustrating, but some of that tension is relieved when Carnby's ex-girlfriend Aline (Tara Reid) enters the story. Aline is both an anthropologist specializing in Abskani artifacts and the museum curator. Much hilarity ensues from this point.
That such a role was reserved for Tara Reid is the best part of the movie, as she manages to stay sober for 96 minutes to be a pivotal character in the film; wearing glasses and keeping her hair in a bun to show intelligence. (It's spoiled when she talks, however, pronouncing Newfoundland New-Found-Land and other three and four-syllable words completely wrong.)
Aline and Carnby are acquainted for the first time in her museum office. At first she's relieved to see him again. Then she punches him in the face for not keeping in touch. Then they survive a near fatal encounter with a menacing monster that rips apart a friendly security guard. Once outside with the threat eliminated, Aline responds after just watching her friend go from a solid to a liquid, "I need to study these artifacts."
There's an obligatory sex scene that begins quietly as Carnby sleeps on his bed. Aline walks in and gets under the covers. Suddenly really nasty fast-beat porn music pumps through the speakers and they fool around. The music cuts. The scene ends. The audience goes into bedlam.
Tara Reid's character is important for other reasons besides studying artifacts and engaging in one sex scene. She joins Carnby and Burke on an adventure down the gold mine to seek the portal, while the other agents stay on the surface and fight monsters.
Aline carries the flashlight but mostly looks constipated whenever a monster approaches and the group must run for cover. Credit Tara Reid for such an exhilarating portrayal of fear and tension.
Dorff brings a lot of passion to his character in this latter half of the movie; constantly telling his men to "sweep the area" and "I want this place locked down, now!" When the group has trouble finding the portal inside the gold mine (don't worry, Tara Reid translates ancient Indian scripture for them) and runs into a sticky situation, he has a serious oh-my-god moment. "My guys are out there dying for nothing; f - - -ing nothing!" Then he tips over a table.
I'm not sure where Boll was trying to take this movie. Like his "House of the Dead" this one also features a solo bullet-time sequence that perhaps is supposed to make up for the garbage that is the rest of this movie. Someone should really tell him that everyone does bullet-time now and it's only good when the rest of the movie isn't so painful to endure.
Not to keep on hammering Tara Reid, but she really is a horrible actress and I never noticed that before. The truth is that her role in the wardrobe malfunction at P. Diddy's birthday party was a better performance --when the world got to see firsthand what a botched up boob job looks like on a complete drunk -- than her role in "Alone in the Dark."
Uwe Boll is one of the worst directors currently working, and I'm amazed he is still being offered jobs to hack. For my final thoughts on this film, I'll leave you with this horribly executed line by Ms. Tara Reid that sums it all up: "Some doors are meant to stay shut."