Director Uwe Boll is an enigma. He is a filmmaker with such an unconscionable disregard as to what audiences want to see that his movies usually hit the DVD shelves within weeks of their disastrous cinematic debuts. Yet, despite a history of well deserved critical lashings and box-office failures, Boll not only continues to make movies, he makes progressively more expensive movies, and even manages to somehow coax decent actors to appear in them.
Boll’s latest disaster, “Alone in the Dark” features a cast that includes Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff, two talented actors who are well above this kind of material, as well as celebrity drunk, Tara Reid, whose performance here should prove, once and for all, that oxycontin and Moet simply should not be mixed.
Based on the obscure videogame series of the same name, Alone in the Dark opens with an obscenely long bit of poorly narrated rolling text that tells the story of a group of orphans and their involvement in some sort of experimental exercise that has ties to a portal that serves as a gateway for an ancient evil. One of those orphans grows up to be Edward Canby (Slater), a paranormalist/detective who investigates the unexplainable, and has a strange affinity with things that go bump in the night. We are introduced to Canby as he pursues some sort of uberzombie in a John Woo style chase scene that culminates with an admittedly flashy-and typically macho-method of dispatchment, setting up Canby’s character as a sort of quasi-cool 80’s action hero throwback (which Slater emotes by contorting his face like a man with feces smeared under his nostrils). Soon, the film ventures into “end of the world” territory, as the aforementioned ancient evil threatens to enter our dimension. With the help of “brainy” (and we know she’s brainy ‘cause she wears ugly glasses and has her hair in a bun) museum curator, Aline Cedrac (Reid), Canby deduces that this evil threat is actually an alien race that was once worshipped by an ancient tribe. Now, Canby, Aline, and an elite unit of soldiers led by Richards (Dorff), must venture to Shadow Island, where a showdown with an all powerful being threatens to not only destroy them, but the entire human race as well.
Alone in the Dark is, quite simply, the worst film I have seen in recent memory. It’s really not even a film at all, but more like a series of jumbled bits and pieces of several other movies all sloppily edited together with a grating hair metal soundtrack, noticeably tacked on narration, and a final coat of CGI effects that would have looked cheap five years ago. Director Uwe Boll shoots the action with plenty of Matrix style slow motion, heaps of unnecessary Wire Fu, and a love scene that feels so clumsy and uncomfortable that it looks as though it was filmed at gun point. The script serves as little more than a series of verbal cues for the next big gun fight, but the little dialogue we do hear is, for the most part, delivered with the conviction of a girl scout peddling cookies in a heat wave. Only Slater seems to still care if he has a career after this film crashes and burns, as he does his best with what little he is given to work with. Dorff seems to be there for the check, and Reid…well, the less said about her the better. And I don’t just mean in regards to this movie.
I actually take a perverse pleasure in watching a lot of bad movies, and even had a bit of fun with House of the Dead, a film that nearly every person I know thoroughly despises. While that movie was really, truly awful, I at least found myself laughing out loud at the film, and having a good time making fun of it. Alone in the Dark, however, offers no such entertainment, as it is an absolutely joyless affair that moves along at such a plodding pace and with such a predictable outcome that I spent more time looking at the soothing red glow of the exit signs than at the headache inducing nonsense flickering on the screen.
The DVD from Lion's Gate approaches this steaming heap of poo as though it were a quality film, with several featurettes, as well as a straight-faced commentary by Uwe Boll in which he is either in complete denial about his lack of talent, or is watching a different film entirely.
Buy this only if you feel as though you deserve to be punished.