STARRING: Christian Slater, Tara Reid, Stephen Dorff, Frank C. Turner, Mathew Walker

2005, 96 Minutes, Directed by:
Uwe Boll

Edward 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: Aliens, Relic, 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 people-running-off-on-their-own-to-find-the-vicious-killing-machines-lurking-in-the-shadows, 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



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