Uwe Boll. If any director is more strongly derided by film fans, I would be deeply, deeply surprised. Not even film fans, actually. Most of his flicks are based on videogames, if “based on” was defined as “taking the name and throwing out everything else that made the games fun or new or interesting”, so game fans think he’s a hack as well. Not even Paul W.S. Anderson gets it as bad in the neck as Boll. Now, I don’t play videogames, so the finer points of comparison are lost on me. I judge the movies purely on their own merits, regardless of fealty to the source material.
My voice was just about the only one that proclaimed to enjoy House of the Dead, for example. Yes it was garbage, I know that, but it was fun garbage. For me, it hit that sweet spot between overearnestness and outright parody, but there were two things in particular that sold me on that flick: Clint Howard and Jurgen Prochnow, both getting stuck in to a 12 course banquet of scenery with a scoop of crazy as a palate cleanser. Unfortunately, all the other Boll movies I have watched have been lacking in the Howard/Prochnow department. Can Alone in the Dark repair Boll’s reputation?
It really is that awful.
Paranormal Investigator Edward Carnby finds an artifact left by a vanished race of native Americans called the Abkani. He and his archeologist girlfriend Aline get drawn into a mission to stop a psychotic professor using other Abkani artifacts to open a dimensional door that will destroy the world. I think. Bad movie ensues.
Opening with a five minute long Star Wars-aping text crawl, that is handily read aloud for those who have already fallen asleep, Alone in the Dark gives bad a whole new meaning. I don’t even know where to begin. It seems that Uwe spent his entire budget on things like studio space and the electricity bill, with a bit for production design, at the expense of necessities such as a script, special effects, a decent cast, or anything even vaguely approaching coherence.
As someone with an avowed affinity for trash cinema, I have been disappointed before. That goes with the territory. Every once in a while I might stumble across the odd gem in the shitpile, but honestly it’s the hunt itself that’s the fun part. Mostly. If ever a film was going to put me off my quest to see as many of IMDb’s Bottom 100 as I can without killing either myself or everyone else*, this may be the winner. Just thinking about it again in order to write this review is giving me a headache.
Do you know who I feel bad for? Christian Slater. To think that the star of Gleaming the Cube has been reduced to this is just depressing. I think he knows it too. He isn’t even trying to be good here. This performance takes “phoning it in” to new depths. Tara Reid is atrociously miscast as a museum curator, and she and Slater have the distinction of being part of what is possibly the most incongruous sex scene in film history, awkwardly set to Youssou N’Dour and Neneh Cherry’s “7 Seconds”. Is that supposed to by some kind of statement, I wonder? According to the film’s Wikipedia page, Boll later released a director’s cut that removed almost all of Tara Reid’s scenes. By my estimate, it will have a running time of about twelve and a half minutes and may possibly be a surrealism masterpiece.
The worst thing about Alone in the Dark is not that it’s bad, but that it’s boring. Bad can still be fun, but sitting through all 96 minutes of this without chemical stimulation should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention.
*This makes eight. I haven’t killed anyone yet.