This Film is ‘Alone in the Dark’
I’ll get this out of the way right up front: ‘Alone in the Dark’ is the worst movie I have ever seen. Ever. And I’ve seen a lot of movies.
Perhaps I was crippled by never having played any of the video games that the movie is based on. Perhaps my expectations were too high when I sat down. Perhaps karma was finally catching up with me. It hardly matters.
The ‘story,’ if such a term is applicable, is laid out in what may well be the longest text crawl of the decade. Apparently it involves a shadowy government body known as Bureau 713 that decides to open the portal to an evil cave by experimenting with some ancient artifacts and crazy little worm critters that they stick into orphans. For the good of mankind. Or something.
One of those orphans, a bloke by the name of Edward Carnby, is able to escape, and 22 years later he has grown up into Christian Slater. Carnby has amnesia, or something, so he doesn’t remember having the evil worm creature stuck into him, yet he’s strangely compelled to wander South America looking for artifacts that will unleash the evil dog creatures that are somehow related to the evil worm creatures and that live in the evil cave.
Anyway, he returns to somewhere in America with the artifact he managed to unearth and is quickly attacked by some sort of neanderthal-vampire hybrid. I think that’s what someone becomes when Dr. Hudgens, the puppetmaster behind all of these proceedings who also likes to shoot up monster blood, turns the evil worm creature on so he can control the experimental orphans that aren’t Christian Slater. Or something. By this point (about 15 minutes in) things are already so confusing that trying to understand is an exercise in futility.
Carnby turns to the girlfriend he just ditched, archaeologist Aline Cedrac (the monument to plastic surgery and rehab that calls itself Tara Reid) to figure out what this artifact is. That is, he knows what the artifact is, but he turns to her for help, anyway. Or something. From there, 713 drops in to steal the artifact that they don’t want any more even though they used to. Oh yeah, Carnby is former 713, so there can be macho tension between him and the current head of 713, Burke (Steven Dorff). In the world of ‘Alone in the Dark,’ government agencies are all run by hunky, square-jawed, testosterone-laden men.
713 wants the artifact, Carnby wants the artifact, Tara Reid stands around, Dr. Hudgens does evil stuff and badly-rendered CG demon dogs run about mauling the 713 agents, who all look like underwear models as they pose in their nice black GAP outfits topped by fantastically ludicrous body armor.
If it sounds like I’ve used a whole bunch of words without actually saying anything, then you’re beginning to understand what it feels like to watch ‘Alone in the Dark.’ Apparently the writers and (much reviled) director Uwe Boll felt that rather than adhere to the usual conventions of moviemaking, they would just have the characters’ dialogue tell the story, and when that wasn’t enough they would have Slater give a horrifically bad voiceover, and when that wasn’t enough they would just let the audience be confused.
My favorite example: While exploring an abandoned mine Carnby, Burke, Reid-bot and a couple of throwaway 713 agents uncover a spike-bottomed pit into which one of the agents falls. This is in the midst of the end-all battle royale that Burke has just referred to as his ‘chance to end this once and for all,’ or some similar clich