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Alone in the Dark
Reviewed by Gary Mitchel, © 2005

Format: Movie
By:   Uwe Boll (Director) and Elan Mastai and Michael Roesch
Genre:   Horror
Released:   January 28, 2005
Review Date:   January 31, 2005
Audience Rating:   R
RevSF Rating:   2/10 (What Is This?)

There are names in horror. Names that strike fear into the heart of fans and non-fans alike. Norman Bates. Hannibal Lecter. Leatherface. But there is one name that tops them all for causing panic and distress in the soul of the movie fan: Uwe Boll.

With just five movies under his belt, Boll is well on his way to becoming the modern day Ed Wood. . . . except that Ed had vision, Bela Lugosi, and a fondness for angora. I really wonder how in the world Boll manages to keep convincing people to let him behind the camera.

Boll's latest specialty is trashing popular video games by turning them into crap movies. Back in '03 he inflicted House of the Dead on us. Next, he’s destroying Bloodrayne and Far Cry. But his latest cinematic crime is Alone in the Dark.

Now, I never played the original game, but several of my friends did and it sounded like a fun time. You’re a paranormal investigator checking out a haunted house. You end up trapped inside, menaced by Lovecraftian horrors, until you solve its riddles. This movie ditches all that except the game's investigator, and inserts the creature from The Relic with some Lovecraft sprinkles on it. In fact, the whole middle section of the movie is stolen whole cloth from The Relic. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The investigator, Edward Carnby (Christian “Kuffs” Slater), grew up in an orphanage, and one day all the other kids in the orphanage vanished. He has no memory of what happened that night, and has spent his whole life trying to find out. Except that he’s still friends with one of them . . . and knows where some of the others are. This is one of the many, many gaping plot holes in the flick.

Anyway, Eddie grows up to work for the government's Paranormal Investigation Group, Bureau 713. From them he learns “stuff” and then quits to work on his own, hunting down the supernatural and the secret of his past.

Meanwhile, one Prof. Hudgens (Mathew Walker), an advisor to 713, has decided that the fate of the human race depends on implanting kids with pieces of otherworldly monsters to be weapons against them. But then he goes bad (or worse, depending on how you look at it) and starts trying to free the monsters for no discernible reason. It’s not really explained, like many things in this crapfest. The otherworldly monsters were locked away thousands of years ago by a missing civilization called the Abskani. They made a key to a door, scattered the pieces of the key, and now they’re all put back together by Hudgens so he can release them.

So Ed has to work with is old boss of 713, Commander Richards (Stephen “Deacon Frost” Dorff) and his archeologist girlfriend Aline (Tara “American Pie” Reid) to keep the evil beasts from being unleashed . . . except that there are a few dozen already running loose under Hudgens’ command, so I guess they weren’t all locked up.

It’s a really muddy plot. I feel like I’ve been hit in the grey matter with a brick. It starts out with a text crawl that’s read aloud, explaining about the otherworldly beasts and how the Abskani locked them away but in turn vanished off the face of the earth themselves. Then when the movie starts, a character explains everything you just heard. Then Slater does a voice-over explaining who he is, and then he explains it all to his cab driver. This goes on through the whole movie. The sad thing is, it doesn’t make the movie any easier to follow, and just points out how muddled the damn script is.

Not only is the plot muddy, but the film is as well. It looks like it was kept in some damp basement for a few years in a rusty can. Everything is slightly out of focus, like an old '70s movie on VHS tape.

The acting is also pretty bad across the board, except for Slater and Dorff. They both do the best they can with their roles, but there is only so much you can do with crap. I do have to admit that they were part of why I volunteered to watch this travesty, as I’ve always liked them both and I’ve felt that Slater deserves a better shake than he gets from Hollywood. Besides, my other choice was Hide and Seek, and after seeing DeNiro in Godsend I was a bit gun-shy about that flick. I should have risked it.

The effects in Alone in the Dark are decent. The CG Relic-rip-off beasts are pretty cool; there are a few good gore-deaths, and one nifty explosion. On the other hand, the sets are all cheap and the costumes are even worse. Somehow, it’s not comforting to know that the government equips its elite anti-paranormal agency with visored bike helmets, knee & elbow pads, and kids’ sculpted Burton-style Batman costumes from K-Mart for body armor. The only costume they spent any money on was Slater’s long leather coat. It’s very, very cool, and I would love to have one. It’s a great beat-up tan, with three big brass buckles . . . and I’m grasping at straws to say something good about this movie.

This is just simply one of the worst I’ve ever inflicted on myself, and I like B-grade horror films! I own I, Madman, for crying out loud! I’d rather watch Blade: Trinity again than see this a second time. The only reason this flick doesn’t get a one rating from me is my pity for Dorff and Slater. Plus, that long coat was pretty cool.

Someone please, please stop Boll before he films again.

RevSF DarkMuppet Gary Mitchel keeps complaining about Godsend, but he gave it a six out of ten. A six! Maybe Oscar-winner DeNiro rates more pity than Slater and Dorff.

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