ALONE IN THE DARK
STARRING: Christian Slater, Tara
Reid, Stephen Dorff, Frank C. Turner, Mathew Walker
2005, 96 Minutes, Directed by:
Carnby (Christian Slater), a former member of 731 – the government’s super
secret paranormal/paramilitary task force - is now an occult free-lancer. He
spends his time combing the globe in search of artefacts from the Abkani, a
hyper-intelligent North American tribe that was trying to harness universal
darkness while the rest of mankind was squatting in caves. Carnby enlists the
aid of Aline, his sometime girlfriend who also happens to be an archaeologist
specializing in the Abkani, in the hopes of deciphering the mysterious mystical
tribe. During his journey he runs afoul of his former colleagues and discovers
that he may be a link in the looming apocalypse.
If movie-going has taught me
anything, it’s that there is rarely one thing that makes a movie bad, rather it
is a combination of factors. In the hopes of tipping you off to a potential
bomb, I’ve compiled a quick and easy checklist. If the movie in question
contains two or more of the following items, stay home and catch up on your
cleaning: it’s a low-budget horror film, it’s based on a video game, the
marketing campaign is practically non-existent, it’s been filmed in Vancouver,
there is no press screening, it stars a former rapper, it stars Tara Reid, it’s
a comic book adaptation that doesn’t involve Bryan Singer, it’s directed by Uwe
Boll . . .
"The characters discover some writing which translates as: 'If you’ve
made it this far alive, you’re already dead.' Huh?"
I understand that writers often
like to include a couple paragraphs of behind-story-text to bring viewers up to
speed but the opening sequence of Alone in the Dark is a harbinger of
things to come: the 20 paragraphs of nonsensical text is accompanied by Ben
Stein style monotone narration. This wasn’t lost on the audience which was in
hysterics and openly heckling the film within the first two minutes. But that,
as they say, is just the beginning.
The writers for Alone
are clearly guilty of grand theft cinema having ripped off scenes and plot
elements from multiple sources including but not limited to:
Starship Troopers, Dawn of the Dead,
Hellboy, and The X-Files
among others. One would think that they’d be able to find something good when
they’ve scoured all that material, but sadly you’d be wrong. The script deserves
a special place all its own.
Sure, movies like Return of
the Killer Tomatoes or Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death
have atrocious dialogue, but they were written with tongue firmly planted in
cheek. Alone in the Dark tries to take itself seriously as an action
thriller, which makes its odious, hackneyed script all the worse. For example
after a precipitous decent to the bottom of a five story mine shaft (in which
one of them dies horribly) the characters discover some writing in Abkani which
the brilliant Ms. Reid (okay, subtlety isn’t exactly my strong point)
translates: “If you’ve made it this far alive, you’re already dead.” Huh? Or
when Slater yells at the wide eyed maniac with the machine gun who’s trying to
kill everyone in the room so he can open the portal and bring about Armageddon
“Are you insane? Don’t open that door”.
Add in the standard
obligatory spotty special effects (weak flash pots are supposed to simulate
explosions) and a heavy metal sound track (which also ushers in the love scene),
and well, need I go on?
Alone in the Dark is a
miserable failure as an action film and is fully deserving of the scathing
reviews it is sure to acquire. On the plus side – and yes I realize how
ridiculous that sounds - it succeeds as an unintentional comedy as evidenced by
fun the remaining audience members had mocking the proceedings. Alone has
a rosy future as a rental by drunken mobs who’ve grown tired of Showgirls.
Remember to get your bets in
early as the Razzie winner for 2005.
- Greg Ursic