Alone in the Dark (2005)

If there’s anything I hate – other than Naomi Watts, paying my electricity bills and the Crazy Frog – it’s being wrong. So it’s with a heavy heart indeed that I have to report that Alone in the Dark is completely unwatchable.

I don’t think it’s fair, you know. Ever since I caught House of the Dead during its incredibly short theatrical release, I’ve been championing Uwe Boll’s case, and have come in for more than my fair share of abuse for it. Everyone else in the known universe hates him, hates House of the Dead, hates Alone in the Dark, and hates, in advance, everything else Mr Boll puts his name to in the future. Not me. I adored House of the Dead, and had high, high hopes for its follow up. Not to mention that I’ve been stalking its cast members to their other projects. And what’s my reward for such unwavering loyalty? Unwatchable crap. It’s like a slap in the face.

The movie starts with a text scroll explaining the basic premise – added, reportedly, after test audiences could make neither head nor tail of the plot – but even that is so dull it’s hard to care. Blah, blah, ancient civilisation, ancient evil, blah, blah, evil scientists, crazed experiments on children, blah, melodramatic crap about opening the gate between the light and the darkness on earth, which, unless I’m very much mistaken here, we usually call “day” and “night”. The gist of it is, some ancient civilisation screwed around with the dark forces and unleashed monsters. Invisible monsters, which don’t like light and therefore somehow magically interfere with electricity to keep themselves in the dark. Which explains the title, I suppose.

My complete lack of ability to follow, understand or care about the plot could be attributed to my never having played any of the games, and I’m willing to accept that that is entirely my fault, but there shouldn’t be any such prerequisite to watching a movie. Alone in the Dark is like some kind of cinematic endurance test.

For those who persevere, there are a few rewards. The strobe-lit gunfight, with the obligatory heavy metal soundtrack is one of these, but it doesn’t go on for nearly long enough before we’re returned to the excruciating dullness of the rest of the movie. The bullet time sequence following a bullet as it shatters a block of ice is pretty inspired, but it’s near the beginning of the movie, so the memory of such coolness is rapidly obliterated by the awfulness of the rest of the movie. The only other perks are probably only applicable to me, because they’re all House of the Dead related: the mine used as the escape route out of the eponymous house shows up again, with little to no attempt made to disguise the fact that it’s the exact same location; Will Sanderson and Ona Grauer show up, and the latter’s death scene is pretty damned cool. Overall, it’s just not worth it. Even Uwe Boll’s commentary isn’t worthwhile. Without anyone else there to bounce off of, he’s shockingly uninteresting, babbling pointlessly about the tax breaks in Germany that allow him to continue making such commonly detested movies. There are only a couple of interesting nuggets of trivia to be found – most notably, that the product-placed Alienware PC used in the movie belonged to Uwe for a while, till it broke down and he palmed it off on an unsuspecting Will Sanderson for $200 – and only one or two outrageously arrogant comparisons to other movies. Uwe’s condemnation of Tara Reid – she’s not the right physical type for this sort of role, apparently, and she’s too uptight to take her bra off in sex scenes despite happily getting naked for magazine spreads – is humorous, but there’s just so much dross to sit through (plus having to watch the movie again) that it’s mostly time wasted.

I feel utterly betrayed by this movie. I’ll probably still watch Bloodrayne, and Dungeon Siege, and all the rest of the video game movies Uwe has lined up, but I don’t expect to enjoy them. Note to Mr Boll: more bullet time, more spinny shots, and far less pointless talking that makes me want to slit my throat. I’m your fanbase, dammit! Bring back Jurgen Prochnow, bring back Kira Clavell, bring back the obscure Star Trek jokes, and stop trying to rely on big name actors to carry abysmal scripts. Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff have had their day; they’re washed up, too conscious of their own ruined careers – up-and-coming actors are cheaper, younger, prettier, and less mind-numbingly dull. Sort it out. And get Will Sanderson to record a commentary next time.

IMDB link

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