Combustible Celluloid Review - Alone in the Dark (2005), Elan Mastai, Peter Scheerer, Michael Roesch, Uwe Boll, Christian Slater, Tara Reid, Stephen Dorff
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With: Christian Slater, Tara Reid, Stephen Dorff
Written by: Elan Mastai, Peter Scheerer, Michael Roesch
Directed by: Uwe Boll
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Running Time: 96
Date: 01/28/2005

Alone in the Dark (2005)

0 Stars

Don't Be Insane

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's sometimes difficult to judge the most truly awful of films. Some of them are easy. They make you angry, like The Cat in the Hat or Sorority Boys or The Loss of Sexual Innocence. But other times, they make you laugh, albeit unintentionally. These movies are such train wrecks that you almost want people to see for themselves; no review can possibly capture their unique brand of clueless ineptitude. Battlefield Earth was such a film; so was Gigli.

Now we have Alone in the Dark. I laughed. I was bored. I couldn't believe my own eyes.

Based on a video game, Alone in the Dark has in its court a director and three screenwriters with limited English skills. Their bizarre, awkward attempts to instill this movie's characters with things to say would make first graders cringe.

But no lack of English skills should prevent them from coming up with a cohesive plot or story, which they have utterly failed to do. As near as I can figure, a bunch of nasty, Alien-like creatures live on the other side of a mystical doorway. An evil scientist once performed experiments on orphans, sticking smaller versions of these creatures to their spinal chords. One orphan got away and grew up to be relic hunter Edward Carnby (Christian Slater).

Now, joining forces with the assistant museum curator, Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), and a special paranormal government agent, Commander Richards (Stephen Dorff), Edward must stop the scientist from opening the door again, or from creating more creatures. Oh, and some white-faced zombies start attacking too, for no apparent reason.

It's never clear why anyone is doing any of this stuff, or why Aline kisses Edward, then sucker punches him, saying "you bastard! I thought you were dead!" or why Edward wears a long, heavy leather trench coat and a tank top.

German-born director Uwe Boll has apparently directed at least four English-language pictures before this, in addition to three German-language pictures, but I'd never heard of any of them, save for House of the Dead, a horror film that was released cold in 2003 without any press screenings and received dreadful notices from the few that saw it.

The three screenwriters, Elan Mastai, Peter Scheerer and Michael Roesch are all veterans of the Boll school of filmmaking, and they all have credits on this same slate of forgotten movies.

I could go into more inane details about Alone in the Dark, complaining about the poor CGI monsters, or the dark camerawork and shaky editing, or the movie's long, draggy patches, or the odd, hysterical dialogue, or even the fact that Reid is playing a museum curator when she can't even convincingly work the door to a museum.

Frankly, you wouldn't believe me if I told you about any of this stuff. The only thing I can leave you with is Edward's line to the bad guy, just as he's about to open the evil doorway: "Don't be insane!"

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