Alone In The Dark [Retro Review]

“Your mother’s wrong, kid. Being afraid of the dark is what keeps most of us alive.”

The Scoop: 2005 R, directed by Uwe Boll and staring Christian Slater, Tara Reid and Stephen Dorff

Tagline: Evil awakens.

Summary Capsule: I could either regale you with tales of ancient Indian civilizations and unspeakable evil, or I could just mention that Tara Reid tries — with the aid of glasses and a hair bun — to act like a PhD. Tries, and fails.

Justin’s Rating: The evil has awaken! And it takes the form of a hack German film director! May God

Justin’s Review: Alone in the Dark holds a somewhat unique place in my video gaming heart as the first truly scary game I ever played. Although completely dated today, the setting of an eerie haunted mansion infested with zombies and all sorts of nasty Lovecraftian legends was enough to keep me jittering at a keyboard for a couple weeks. This fond memory will be the most positive thing in this review. Shall we proceed?

Uwe Boll’s nightmarish vision of this survival horror game series has pretty much nothing to do with the games, reality, or fun. Instead, it’s a murky couple hours of Aliens-ripoffs, dull fight/chase scenes, techno-rock music, and Tara Reid saying things in that baby voice she has while no-one rightfully laughs in her face. It’s also one of those movies that hurts parts deep inside of you when a friend asks what it’s about, and you are tasked with having to mentally piece together a plot that was never meant to fit in any sane sense.

So! Here we go!

Christian Slater is Edward (please, call him “Ed”), a paranormal investigator. In movieland, being a paranormal investigator is the equivalent of being a minimum wage burger flipper; everyone’s one at some time or another. He has a murky past and has spent his life “searching for answers”. Also, “searching for the cursed lost booty of the Aztecs ARRRRRR me mateys!” He used to work with one of the four hundred U.S. paranormal investigative agencies, but quit because he had chin stubble and was a unique individual, darn it!

Some bad stuff starts happening. Evil creatures zipping about in the shadows, afraid to show themselves and earn a lawsuit from the desk of H.R. Giger. Edward’s previous orphan friends turn into mind-controlled zombies. Long-extinct ancient Indian civilizations spreading items across the planet in order to set up a scavenger hunt 10,000 years later. (The winning prize? Oh, just the end of the world. Of course.) Edward apparently alienated everyone in his life some time before, but it’s not explained. Experiments in mine shafts. Military personnel saying the word “gennies” one too many times. Piece it together however you like, it won’t make any difference.

Tara Reid shows up on set one day, puts on a pair of glasses and pretends to be a smarty pants in archaeology or something. She also pronounces “Newfoundland” as “New-FOUND-land”. Everybody thinks it’s cute and doesn’t call security. I, however, kept screaming at the television, “You were the DUMB one in Josie and the Pussycats! That’s about as far as you should go!” She and Edward start digging through numerous clues that would stymie Batman, and endure countless chase scenes that chase only my patience.

Side tangent: I love this trend we see in action films where the main action star (a guy) often needs a scientist sidekick (a girl) for two reasons. One, they’re too dumb to understand some complicated mutation mumbo jumbo, and need the scientist to go into a lengthy explanation before giving the hero some indication as to the enemy’s weak spot. Two, for sex. It’s a proven fact that scientists are repressed sexpots just waiting for a guy with a gun to charge through the doors and swap DNA.

Urgh. If you’re new to the Uwe Boll phenomenon, then let my words prepare you for the shock of his cinema. Dialogue? Sucks beyond the telling of it. Acting? Sucks you into a black hole, never to return. Reasoning and believability? Unexcused absence. Loud, eardrum-assaulting music as he arms his characters with guns and shouts “ROCK AND ROLL!”? Here.

What else do you want me to say to cure these wounds? AitD is not interesting, not entertaining, not scary, and not a proper meal for anyone’s brain. Boll needs to accept the truth that millions have seen: he’s a hack and his films lack. A poet, I am.

Has anyone actually checked if Tara Reid's graduated middle school? Just sayin'.

Intermission!

  • Eesh. You gotta read a NOVEL of scrolling text before the film can begin. Never a good sign.
  • Nuns. Always selling off the orphans.
  • Christian Slater. Always putting the fear of God into little kids.
  • Tara Reid. Always playing dress-up scientist.
  • Voiceovers. If they’re needed in a video game movie, it’s a bad, bad thing.
  • Sex scenes. Never have good music to listen to.
  • Exposition. Best served on a helicopter flight.
  • One of the soldiers checks the pulse of a person lying on the ground to see if the man is dead – with gloves on.
  • Although set in the United States, a Canadian Scotia Bank is visible in the last scene.
  • The lengthy opening text crawl was added after numerous members of test audiences reported that they were confused by the plot.

Groovy Quotes

Young Boy: My mommy says that there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark.
Edward: Your mother’s wrong, kid. Being afraid of the dark is what keeps most of us alive.

Edward: I have to take a trip down memory lane.

Edward: Fear is what protects you from the things you don’t believe in.

Edward: I was tracking poachers across their lines in the Amazon when I hooked up with some ex-Chilean military trafficking artifacts on the black market.

Cabbie: You travel light. Edward: I carry enough baggage for the both of us.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • House of the Dead
  • Bloodrayne
  • Resident Evil
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