Awfully Good: Alone in the Dark
Alone in the Dark (2005)
Director: Uwe Boll
Stars: Christian Slater, Tara Reid, The Arrow
Is there a plot?
Something about paranormal investigators, an ancient society and a portal that could unleash hell on Earth. Also, Tara Reid shouldn't be seen in direct light.
What's the damage?
Though Uwe Boll is synonymous with cinematic garbage and literally represents the low end of the Awfully Good spectrum, I've actively avoided doing his movies for this column. (POSTAL being the exception, because I was forced to review it.) But enough of you wanted me to see ALONE IN THE DARK that I gave it a shot. And it was all I had feared—bad AND boring, a master class in how to not make a movie. Everyone and everything contained within this film is a complete non-entity. It's so poorly done that it barely even registers with your brain as you watch it.
"ARTIFACTS, DERP." -Tara Reid as archaeologist Aline Cedrac
Christian Slater needed money enough to star as Edward Carnby, sporting chest hair and a trenchcoat. He sleepwalks through the role and speaks in generic, unhelpful soundbites like "Just because you can't see something, doesn't mean it can't kill you!" or "Fear is what protects you from the things you don't believe in!" As a hero worthy of fronting his own film franchise, Carnby is a hugely selfish assclown. When we first meet him he jumps out of a cab about to be hit by a car—leaving the innocent kid driver inside to fend for himself. (I don't think he ever pays for the cab either. Double whammy.) Later on, Carnby kills his best friend almost immediately after discovering he's an infected bad guy, without making any effort whatsoever to try to save him.
So you could say he's an angry Dorff…
Tara Reid, meanwhile, plays an archaeologist and museum curator, because she wears glasses occasionally. Her character offers literally nothing to the story. Despite being a scientist directly involved with whatever paranormal crap is going on, she's an utter vacuum of usefulness that's only kept around for the horribly awkward sex scene with Christian Slater, which itself exists solely to make sure you haven't fallen asleep yet. I guess her non-involvement saves her from being a joke on a "Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH" level, but not by much. Stephen Dorff is also technically present on the cast roster and shows up to be Stephen Dorff and yell once or twice. Pretty much the only highlight of the acting ensemble is seeing our own Arrow in the Head a.k.a. John Fallon in a small role as tech guru Agent Yonek. The Arrow shares a scene with Stephen Dorff and gets the immortal line "Recallibrating all sensors now, sir."
"I have a splitting headache. Just give me a minute to rest my eye. My head is killing me."
On the actual filmmaking side, Uwe Boll continues to demonstrate a severe lack of expertise when it comes to pointing a camera at something and shooting it. I'm not sure what he was thinking for pretty much every decision made during ALONE IN THE DARK. The laws of probability would suggest that at least one of his choices would have to be the right one just by chance, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Ignoring basic points like pacing, plot structure and common sense, there's a bullet time sequence that's about six years too late to even be considered a ripoff, action scenes that again look like video game rejects, and an ending that makes zero sense. (The creatures are allergic to light—hence the title—but apparently can attack our heroes in direct daylight.)
Who did the costumes, Peter Pan?
Ironically, the best part of ALONE IN THE DARK is the very beginning. The film starts with an opening crawl that is ridiculously long, detailed and nonsensical to the point of hilarity. (It also sounds like it's narrated by a young David Carradine.) It lays out an entire movie’s worth of info, so much so that it completely negates whatever possible surprises and twists are revealed in the film itself. Imagine if the beginning text to STAR WARS said "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. And that one young guy is really the princess' brother and their dad is the dude in the big black helmet."
CONTEST TIME! The person who comments below with the best caption for what The Arrow is thinking about Stephen Dorff gets to pick the next Awfully Good column.*
*As long as it's not another Uwe Boll movie.
The film's ridiculously long opening crawl that spoils everything that's about to come.
1) While still horrid, these two terrible action scenes are at least interestingly bad.
2) If you ever wanted to see Tara Reid and Christian Slater have awkward sex, today is your day.
Tara Reid in a bra. Thankfully the scene is darkly lit so you can't see any of her horrible scars.
Play Along at Home!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- The movie reveals something you already learned from the opening text
- Christian Slater does kung fu
- Someone says "What the hells going on here?"
- Tara Reid looks like the world's dumbest archaeologist
Double shot if:
- You spot The Arrow!
Thanks to Josh, Juan, Andrew, Bede and Marcey for suggesting this week's movie!