Alone In the Dark (2005)

Starring Christian Slater, Tara Reid, Stephen Dorf

Directed by Dr. Uwe Boll

I came away from my interview with Uwe Boll looking at him in a new light. He wasn’t at all what I had expected. He struck me as a guy that loved genre movies and would be cool to hang out with, at least until he shows you his newest film and asks for your honest opinion. This is especially troublesome considering his new film happens to be Alone in the Dark, a film that raises the bar for incoherency on the silver screen.

Honestly, I have no idea what the hell was going on at any point in this movie. None of it makes even the slightest bit of sense. This is one of those movies where you can only describe the plot by saying “things happen” because there is little rhyme or reason as to how or why most of what is happening is happening. Unlike House of the Dead, I have never played the video game on which this movie is based so I’m a complete novice when it comes to the game’s plot and have no clue how much got changed. I suspect quite a few liberties were taken with both the source material and basic human logic.

Alone in the Dark opens with a ridiculously long text crawl that goes into entirely too much detail trying to explain the film’s backstory. This was probably the first and last moment in the whole movie where anything made any sense, but the fact that the plot remains a complete blur to me indicates that this text crawl still failed to accomplish its task of spelling everything out for us right off the bat.

There was an ancient Indian tribe that maintained portals to hell or something like that and there were these evil demon creatures that came out of them and then the tribe sealed it up, but some of the monsters remained on our side and then the entire civilization vanished or something like that. The government knows about all of this and that’s why they formed this paramilitary paranormal commando unit to investigate and sometimes wage war with these creatures. There was also this twisted professor that performed experiments on children at some orphanage involving stuff related to this demonic race that has been sealed away. We’re told something about the kids growing up to be “sleepers” for when the time is right or something like that. Virtually every single character in the movie either has ties to the professor or the commando unit.

God, my head already hurts from simply attempting to recall any of this. I guess the best analogy to describe how I felt walking out of the theater afterwards would be to say it’s like waking up the next morning with a massive hangover and then trying to remember what all went on the night before even though it’s all a massive blur. You can remember bits and pieces but the big picture is completely lost on you.

One of those orphans grows up to be Christian Slater, who is now a paranormal investigator and former member of that government ghostbusters unit. Next thing you know there’s a car chase and an over-stylized fight scene between Slater and this crazed, seemingly inhuman bald guy, who on the cinematic scale of intimidation ranks just slightly higher than the evil Nazi gym teacher looking cyborg from American Cyborg: Steel Warrior. The bald zombie guy is out to kill Slater and steal this artifact that he discovered.

Slater spends most of the movie telling us in either dialogue or voiceover narrative that he’s searching for answers regarding his mysterious past. I understand how he feels because after letting Alone in the Dark wash over me, I too am looking for answers I know will never come.

I have no idea what the evil insane professor’s ultimate goal was supposed to be, why he wanted to open this gateway, what he expected to be on the other side when he did, or how this is supposed to benefit him.

I have no idea why the evil professor didn’t want anyone to open that thing they brought up from the bottom of the ocean if he was only going to end up commanding what was inside of it anyway, nor do I have no idea why the Professor was at first afraid of the creatures inside of it when he’s clearly shown commanding them a few scenes later.

I have no idea what the point was of the evil professor shooting himself up with demon creature blood and making others ingest centipede-like parasites that allow him to control them. As I said, I have no idea what the ultimate objective was supposed to be.

I have no idea why Christian Slater could suddenly do Matrix-style kung fu other than that Boll thought it would make for a cool scene.

I have no idea why nobody ever asked where that ex-agent from the beginning of the movie that had been missing for 20 years until he suddenly showed up and tried to kill Christian Slater had been for those past 20 years.

I have no idea what the point of Tara Reid’s character was as she contributed nothing whatsoever to the plot and seemed to exist solely to give the movie a female character. In my interview with Boll during the word association portion I asked him about Tara Reid and his response was “a celebrity”. It struck me as odd at the time and after seeing the movie I can’t help but to wonder if that was his polite way of acknowledging that even he knows how horrible she is in this movie. There is a difference between saying your lines and acting them. Reid fails to even say them properly.

I have no idea why the evil professor seems oblivious to the fact that Reid’s character is romantically linked to Slater’s character, which one would think would make him much easier to get close enough to in order to get that artifact away from him.

I have no idea why Slater and Reid had a PG-13 love scene in the middle of an R-rated movie and boy, did that love scene ever come from out of nowhere. Just cue up the music because it’s time for some nookie!

I have no idea why Boll thinks cranking up the alternative rock music during the action scenes is supposed to automatically make things more exciting.

I have no idea what the purpose of those “sleepers” was; they really didn’t do anything to aid the forces of darkness other than some random killing. The way that subplot is handled with those characters I kept thinking about a 28 Days Later version of what happens to Reggie Jackson in the first Naked Gun movie.

I have no idea how that paranormal commando unit always managed to come bursting in at exactly the right moment regardless of what the time/space differential was between where they were located and where they were bursting into. No matter where it was or how far away – BAM! There they are at just the right moment.

I have no idea why nearly every single member of said paranormal commando team looked like they were auditioning for a WB Network version of S.W.A.T. I think I saw one actor in the paramilitary outfit that actually looked like he wasn’t a twenty something model.

I have no idea why we suddenly got a brief but totally uncalled for subplot involving the last two members of the paranormal commandos other than one of them being played by Boll’s friend Will Sanderson and he wanted to give his buddy some extra screen time.

I have no idea why that female member of the unit died when all she had done was a seemingly non-life threatening leg injury. Sure, that worm thing in the sand appeared to bite her a few moments later but they never actually established that it was poisonous.

I have no idea why Stephen Dorf’s character made any attempt to run away from what was obviously a suicidal move that he seemingly made with the intent to make a noble sacrifice to save everyone else. You went back to set off the bomb, you set the bomb for five seconds, there’s no chance of getting away alive, what the hell are you running away for?

A better title for this film would have been Dazed and Confused. That’s certainly how I felt afterwards. I didn’t find it to be as unintentionally laughable as House of the Dead but it did manage to hold my attention if only because I was utterly dumbfounded as to what the hell was going on. We are all Indiana Jones and Alone in the Dark is the great big boulder of illogic rolling after us.

I think Universal Soldier: The Return was the last time I was this stupefied by a movie’s complete lack of a coherent plot. Rest assured, Alone in the Dark is the single most incoherent theatrically released movie in a long, long, long time. It’s like they took Aliens, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 28 Days Later, The Relic, bits and pieces of about a half dozen other movies and just tossed them into some sort of giant cinematic cuisinart, hit “crappe”, and then edited it all back together at random.

And the ending… WTF?!?! It made even less sense than everything else that came before it. I thought Slater said they closed the gate? So how did… Uh, forget it. I swear your head will explode like someone from Scanners just trying to piece together the gaping chasms of illogic that this movie thrusts upon its viewers. The movie opens with the movie novelization scrolling up the screen, proceeds to play out like a Sci-Fi Channel original movie with a larger budget and multiple layers of convolution, and then concludes with a scene that manages to simultaneously rip-off the endings to both Resident Evil and Evil Dead. Un-freakin’-believable!

But I will say one thing in Boll’s defense. This screenplay is such a jumbled mess that no director could have made a halfway decent movie out of it. Also, after seeing this movie I no longer think Boll should be compared to Ed Wood. That is not an accurate analogy at all. You want to know what Boll is? Uwe Boll is the MTV version of Bruno Mattei. If you don’t know who Bruno Mattei is then I suggest you head over to IMDB and look him up, then go out of your way to view a couple of his movies, preferably any of the ones starring Reb Brown. If you do know who Bruno Mattei is and have seen any of his movies, then just try to envision them with fancy editing, over-stylized action scene, and a pumping metal soundtrack. You’ll completely understand the comparison.

1 out of 5

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Jon Condit