he likes it or not, Uwe Boll has become one of the most recognizable
names in the b-movie community, ranking with such greats as Ed Wood and
Coleman Francis. House of the Dead has become the subject of
endless jibes on message boards and everyday conversation, but I’d feel
safe in saying there’s a palpable love for the film and its
contribution to the world of terrible cinema. I mean, how often do we
get a real turkey like Dead or Battlefield Earth to restore our faith in the utter ineptitude of Hollywood? With that said, let’s see if Boll’s second film, Alone in the Dark can compare to its predecessor in terms of baditude.
In true Boll form, the movie opens in the most confusing way possible,
with an astonishingly long text crawl. Here we learn of an ancient
tribe of Indians known as the Abkani, lost artifacts, gateways between
the worlds of light and dark, evil creatures, a government agency
dealing with paranormal phenomenon, a mad scientist, his secret lab
hidden within an abandoned gold mine (oh brother), and so much more.
After watching the movie I made sure to go back and watch this section
with Boll’s commentary, and in keeping with his usual arrogance he
blames the need for a text crawl on the audience. Apparently he and his
team wrote the crawl after test crowds became rightly puzzled by the
convoluted plot, so it’s literal purpose is to cram all of the
expository information into three minutes. To add insult to injury, all
of this info is repeated by the characters, so the movie tends to get
redundant on more than a few occasions.
Christian Slater, Tara Reid, and Stephen Dorff are the thespian trio
forced to carry this celluloid load, and to no one’s surprise they all
look bored to tears. Slater, whether delivering useless narration or
bulging his eyes out during an “emotional moment” always looks as if he
was recently dipped in rubbing alcohol. The poor man just comes off as
greasy and weighed down, with his only motivation being the somewhat
sizeable check waiting at the end of the line.
Reid plays Slater’s ex-girlfriend who, predictably, resents but
eventually comes to fall in love with the human meatloaf. She’s also
supposed to be a paleontologist, a key character note which is realized
visually with a pair of nerdy glasses and a conservative outfit.
Needless to say these details don’t help her ability to talk like a
paleontologist, and her dialogue almost always comes off as sedated or
pained. I’d discuss Dorff and his role in the film, but it’s so
inconsequential it’s not even worth discussing at length. Let’s just
say he’s Slater’s rival and leave it at that.
Together these three actors slog through a story which could have been
interesting had it been handled by a capable director. With Boll at the
helm, however, arcs and subplots come together to create a mesh which
is neither especially captivating or even funny on an unintentional
level. I just never cared about what was happening in front of me,
whether it was the silly assemblage of possessed orphans attacking
Slater or the even sillier idea of a gate which leads into a generic
world of evil. I don’t know who fell asleep when this script was being
penned, but it needed more than a few rewrites before being thrown at
the actors. As is, the movie suffers to the nth degree as a result.
And what’s more, can anyone possibly explain the motivation of the
film’s main villain? He’s this cooky scientist who’s hell bent on
unleashing these evil creatures upon an unsuspecting world, but at no
point does he bother to tell our heroes why this is his goal in life.
Instead he roars and twitches like the hammiest of actors, trying
desperately to distract us viewers into thinking he’s somehow
important. Sorry fellah, but I sure as heck didn’t buy your character
in any respect.
To wrap things up, let me just say that Alone in the Dark is not nearly as entertaining as House of the Dead.
Like a hammer to the skull, it just bludgeons you until the credits
roll and you can yank the DVD out of its respective player. Its only
good attribute are the decent special effects used to create the
creatures, but that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans compared to its
lame acting, writing, and overall presentation. Despite all of these
flaws, though, it will have a place in my collection, because something
tells me an Uwe Boll collection is one worth keeping updated. Dr. Boll,
you can be secure in knowing you’ll have a place in the history of
Hollywood, even if that place is in the gutter.