ALONE IN THE DARK
Directed by Uwe Boll
Produced by Shawn Williamson
Written by Elan Mastal, Michael Roesch & Peter Scheerer
Director of Photograpy Mathias Neumann
Music by Bernd Wendlandt, Peter Zweier & Oliver Lieb
Cast: Christian Slater, Tara Reid, Stephen Dorff & Matthew Walker
2005/96 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
OK, soapbox in place...let's go
Why can't anyone get a movie based on a video game right? This has baffled me for years. Many games have built in stories, and it would be very simple to adapt these stories for the screen. But, no...filmmakers think that the audience wants to see something different, so they out the original story from the game and bring in something new, different...and often bad. (This happens with comic books as well.) RESIDENT EVIL, HOUSE OF THE DEAD, and apparently the upcoming SILENT HILL take well-established plot lines and characters and eschew them for crap. (Please don't get me started on RESIDENT EVIL. I wish that you all could read the script that I wrote.) Now, HOUSE OF THE DEAD director Uwe Boll adds another film to the list with ALONE IN THE DARK. Once again, we find ourselves experiencing a great game turned into an abysmal movie.
Christian Slater stars in ALONE IN THE DARK as Edward Carnby, a paranormal investigator who has been researching the ancient Abkani tribe, a group who once opened a doorway to another realm. Carnby was once a member of a group called Bureau 713, who monitor paranormal activity, but he now works alone. Along with his interest in the Abkani, Carnby also ponders the odd occurrences which took place at the orphanage where he was raised.
As the film opens, Carnby has just returned from a journey where he's found another Abkani artifact. And given the fact that someone tries to kill him as soon as his plane lands, Carnby assumes that the piece is important. He takes his on/off girlfriend Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), who works in a museum under Professor Hudgens (Mathew Walker), another Bureau 713 veteran. However, Carnby's reunion with Aline is quickly interrupted as they are attacked by a group of monsters who thrive in the dark. Enter Commander Richards (Stephen Dorff) who leads the Bureau 713 soldiers to save the day. From there on, Carnby and Aline race to stop the monsters and save the world.
From the moment that ALONE IN THE DARK was released (heck, even back to when it was announced), many bad things have been said about it. So, I want to say one good thing about the film: The idea of combining ALIENS and THE RELIC isn't necessarily a bad one, as the soldiers of Bureau 713 fight the monsters in the museum.
OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about how bad ALONE IN THE DARK truly is. Now, HOUSE OF THE DEAD was a bad movie, but at least it was fast-paced and, in a warped way, fun. I'm not defending Uwe Boll as a director, but I liked that he inserted frames from the game into the movie and although the video-game stat sequence was stolen from BIO-ZOMBIE, it was still interesting. With the zombie violence and the gratuitous T&A, the movie may have been dumb, but it was dumb fun.
ALONE IN THE DARK contains none of these factors. In a word, the movie is boring and confusing. Despite the scrolling text at the beginning of the film (which does not run for 5 minutes, as I'd been lead to believe), the script (which took three people to write) is convoluted and needlessly dense -- a fact that will alienate many viewers. But, a confusing story would be forgivable if the movie was action-packed. ALONE IN THE DARK is one of those weird films where something is typically happening, but none of it is interesting. From the opening alley-way fight scene to the museum battle to the finale, but movie is filled with action scenes that add up to nothing. Part of the problem is the monsters in the film. They are all completely black, hard to see, and have no personality. Then you have the fact that nameless soldiers are fighting the monsters. This creates an atmosphere of apathy which is hard to overcome.
One thing that ALONE IN THE DARK seems to have in its favor is that the cast contains recognizable names -- but this doesn't help matters. Christian Slater literally looks lost the entire time (giving the story, I'm not surprised) and he wanders through the movie. Stephen Dorff isn't bad, but his character isn't give much to do and he looks antsy in every scene. And then there's Tara Reid. On the commentary, director Boll says, "Tara Reid looks really intelligent with the eyeglass (sic)...I hope." Sorry, buddy, it didn't work. I would say that she's totally out of place here, but her awkward line-readings (notice that I didn't say acting) only punctuate the problems with this movie.
I've played the game "Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare" and really enjoyed it. The game had a solid story which would have made a good movie. But, the screenwriters saw fit to create their own adventure for Edward Carnby and the result is a mess that is so bad that the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" guys wouldn't touch it.
ALONE IN THE DARK dares to show its face on DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Given the fact that every element of this film reeks of low-budget, the movie actually has a very nice and clean look which is reflected in this transfer. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain nor any defects from the source material. The picture is a tad too dark at times, but given the film's title, I guess that should be expected. There is some limited artifacting, but nothing too awful. The DVD carries both a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and a DTS 6.1 track, both of which sound fine. The tracks provide clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio delivers a nice array of surround sound and subwoofer effects, and the DTS track really shines in this area. It's too bad that the nice technical features were wasted on this movie.
The ALONE IN THE DARK carries an assortment of extras. We start with an audio commentary from director Uwe Boll. Boll spends a great deal of time talking about how money was raised to make ALONE IN THE DARK, as if we were all thinking, "Who paid for this crap?" What? Oh, you were thinking that? He also talks about his resume. He spends very little time talking about the on-screen action or the story. The movie also has a "Pop-Up Video"-like "Trivia Track" which can be viewed with the film. "Into the Dark: Behind the Scenes of ALONE IN THE DARK" (8 minutes) is a making-of featurette, and you know it has to be good as they've misspelled Boll's name. Now that's quality. This segment features comments from Boll and others who go on and on about how good the movie is. We get interviews with the visual effects artists with "Shedding a Light: The Visual Effects of ALONE IN THE DARK" (9 minutes). The "Bullet-time Animatic" (90 seconds) is a brief-look at the design for the opening fight scene, and there are also "Storyboard-to-Screen" comparisons for 2 scenes. The DVD features six music videos from the bands Dimmu Borgir, Hypocrisy, In Flames, Kataklysm, Mnemic, and Nightwish. Finally, we have the trailer for ALONE IN THE DARK, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1 and 16 x 9 enhanced.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©