Reviews

Alone in the Dark

By Garth Franklin
Alone in the Dark

Only one person in seven survived the infamous 'Black Hole of Calcutta' incident in 1756, and those are better odds than making it through the latest Dr. Uwe Boll movie. To be fair to this generation's Ed Wood, the sole complimentary thing to be said about "Alone in the Dark" is that it's a smidgen better than Boll's debut effort - the truly awful 2003 zombies at an island rave party feature "House of the Dead". With 'Alone' though, Boll has adapted another video game in a failed attempt to yield a workable film. The result comes off as an ultra-cheap and rather amateur low brow clone of 1997's quite decent and far superior museum beastie thriller "The Relic".

Inept on practically every level, it's easy to take swipes at the bad acting, atrocious script and simple lack of any concise storyline because quite frankly many other video game adaptations suffer from the same problem (although not to this degree). What makes 'Alone' an exception is a lot of other little things that even the bad gaming movies (ie. "Super Mario Bros.", "Street Fighter", "Resident Evil") can get around. Starting with the longest text scroll intro I think ever put on screen, the main problem aside from the amateur production values is that the film tries to be too many things at once and drops every ball it throws into the air. There's zombies, wild experiments on children, an abandoned gold mine, a secret Government bureau, paranormal research, monsters from and a gateway to hell, need I go on?

Worse than all that though is endless voiceovers, long bouts of exposition and dialogue trying to explain every little detail and bewilderingly enough, still none of it makes any sense. It's not that the movie is too complex, it's just that Boll is trying to do too many things and throws all sorts of scenes and bits in there, which have absolutely no reason or need to be there, in an effort to stop things getting dull. The terms dramatic pacing, timing, and the idea of slowly unfolding a mystery seem almost an alien concept to him. Ripping off other movies though however is something he's very familiar with because you'll see many moments that will remind you of other and far better films.

Then comes the acting and, well Greenpeace would be happy with all this wood walking around. Dorff continues a career slide punctuated by such disasters as "Fear.Com" and "Cold Creek Manor", and yet the always fuming actor manages to stand above pretty much the rest of the cast. That includes Slater who looks like he took the job because those "Pump up the Volume" royalty checks are running low, and Tara Reid who is making great strides in her attempts to master the basics of the English language and doesn't make for a convincing action heroine in any shape or form - short of crushing men between her breasts. None of the other performances are worth remembering short of a few lines from John 'The Arrow' Fallon who's just a rocking dude and hey, gets a colourful use of language.

What else of note? Well CG monsters that look like caviar with teeth, a completely unneeded subplot about spinal parasites that possess people, and of course a sex scene. Sex scenes are supposed to be erotic, and Slater does seem to be having fun in Reid's ample bra-covered cleavage at one point, but the whole thing comes out of nowhere, never goes beyond PG-safe territory and is set to the superb "Seven Seconds" song by Neneh Cherry & Youssou Ndour. It's one of the most poetic songs about racial division ever released, so why in the hell is it backing up some cheap tacky and ball-less sex scene between two people that even the whitest caucasians are embarrassed to claim as their own.

Opting more for big action than bloody gore, Boll actually restrains himself with the action with little to nothing much happening in the first hour. Then the last half hour it's one giant shoot 'em up with heavy machine gun fire and beastie attacks. Towards the end there's admittedly a few good moments of almost "Starship Troopers" style fighting, and the actual bit with the door to the 'hell cave' would make for a decent direct to video schlocker. But a few minutes of average material in an otherwise piss poor effort does not even a bad movie make. It's so stunning to think that already four weeks in, we already have a film that has set the bar so low that it's going to be hard to sink further - oh wait, the good doctor has another movie coming out this year doesn't he.

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