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Alone in the Dark II (2009)

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Alone in the Dark II review!Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Rick Yune, Rachel Specter, Bill Moseley, Ralf Moeller, Zack Ward, Natassia Malthe, Michael Pare, Jason Connery, P.J. Soles, Danny Trejo, Lance Henriksen

Written & Directed by Peter Scheerer and Michael Roesch


If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, will that stop Uwe Boll from making a sequel to it? Obviously not, as evidenced by the very existence of Alone in the Dark II.

Uwe Boll only serves as a producer this time. The creative reigns have been handed over to writing/directing duo Peter Scheerer and Michael Roesch, scripters of the first Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead 2, and Boll’s upcoming Far Cry, as well as the makers of the recently released vampire flick “>Brotherhood of Blood (review). The two pretty much owe their careers to Uwe Boll and judging by their work on Alone in the Dark II, the apples haven’t fallen very far from the tree.

Alone in the Dark II is a bad movie. Bad writing, bad acting, bad pacing … the lighting is good though; I will give them that. They manage to generate some atmosphere even as they fail to generate any thrills or chills. The mindless action-oriented nature of Boll’s film has been replaced with a failed stab at something more horrific, albeit sprinkled with a few rounds of gratuitous gunfire typically aimed at an off-camera presence. Even most of the deaths take place off-camera. The first ten minutes had me thinking it might not be too bad. Then it fell into a quagmire of tedium before giving me a few mild chuckles with its insipid climax.

The pointless plot somehow manages to be far more coherent than the gobbledygook original yet never rose above the level of gobbledygook nonetheless. No apocalypse this time; just this evil witch pissed off at this particular family bloodline. A group of modern witch hunters are trying to destroy her, there’s a young woman meant to be sacrificed to the witch now that she’s reached the proper age, and at the center of it all is a magical dagger that is both the cause and solution to the witch problem. The plot mechanics are so simple-minded the story could have easily been reworked into a sequel to Sarah Landon & the Paranormal Hour. But there’s still this disconnect; the explanations behind the who’s, how’s, and why’s are so impalpably shallow it left me slightly bewildered (but mostly disinterested).

Alone in the Dark II review (click to see it bigger)A big part of the problem is this evil witch is such a lame nemesis it left me longing for those four-legged demon monsters from the first film. Sometimes unseen, sometimes in the form of a swishy, swooping, light and fog, CGI phantasm, and later in her physical form as a pale woman with a blood-scarred face wearing a black cloak who I swear could have been revealed to be the wife of the similar looking villain from House of the Dead and I’d have bought it. Both even enjoyed silently glaring at others from a short distance behind trees.

There’s this cursed dagger that if you touch it you’ll get infected with these painful, disfiguring wounds that react to light. These are the witch’s mark. Once infected she can get into your head and cause dream-like hallucinations, forcing you to do her bidding or else she’ll come kill you. She can’t come kill you unless you look into a mirror in these visions; doing so reveals your location to her. You could make a drinking game out of every time someone yells some variation of “She’s coming!”

Stopping her requires finding the location of the witch’s lab. Yes, lab. The witch has a lab. Not a lair – a lab! But when they find the “lab” it turns out to be a lair with mechanical doors. Is this a reference to the video games? I’m guessing no. It certainly has no correlation to the first Alone in the Dark movie aside from the title and the return of main character Edward Carnby.

Scheerer and Roesch appeared to have been working under the assumption that everyone watching already knows who Edward Carnby is. Their failure to define his character led to some truly befuddling dialogue. “He’s an idealist. He’s the worst.” So says another witch hunter, more than once, about Carnby’s meddling in their affairs. What the hell was that even supposed to mean? Carnby argues with that same character later on, “I know who I am.” Huh? I don’t. You feel like sharing? I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that his character has no personality and no motivations. He’s just there for the sake of being there because Edward Carnby’s supposed to be the franchise’s main character.

Alone in the Dark II review (click to see it bigger)Whatever the hell that was that happened at the end of the first film must have turned him Asian. The Fast & The Furious‘ Rick Yune has been cast in the role of Edward Carnby, a role originated by Christian Slater. That actually caused some initial confusion on my part. He meets with another character in his very first scene, the name Carnby is muttered, and I naturally assumed it was in relation to the white guy. Took me about ten more minutes before it truly sunk in that Yune was supposed to be Edward Carnby. I can forgive that casting quirk more than I can forgive Yune’s acting (or lack thereof). The man has negative charisma. I’ve seen matte paintings display more personality. He’ll suffer a near fatal stab wound to the stomach early in and just sit there looking like a guy who just woke up with a serious hangover trying to remember what he did the night before.

Doesn’t matter much anyway since even Carnby takes a backseat to the cute but unconvincing damsel-in-distress (the chirpy voiced Rachel Specter) as her role gradually overshadows everyone else’s. Her pairing with Yune left me longing for some of that magical Christian Slater/Tara Reid chemistry. They were Bogey and Bacall compared to these two.

The rest of the cast is composed of enough recognizable genre faces to stock a horror movie convention. So many actors who’ve appeared in previous Uwe Boll movies pop up in this sequel an alternate title could have been It’s a Boll, Boll, Boll, Boll World.

Alone in the Dark II review (click to see it bigger)Boll alumni Michael Pare (Seed), Natassia Malthe (BloodRayne II: Deliverance), and Zack Ward (Postal) all appear just long enough to get killed before the pre-title sequence. Actually, Ward gets to live a few minutes longer. Ralf Moeller (Seed) then arrives in a nothing role to do what he does best: hold a weapon, smoke cigars, and appear really buff and gruff.

You also have the likes of Bill Moseley, looking like an Amish redneck, as the witch hunter whose daughter the witch is after. This will not go down as one of Moseley’s acting career highlights.

Lance Henriksen collects his usual paycheck as a crotchety retired witch hunter who should have been named “Mr. Fill-in-the-Blanks” since his part existed primarily to try and explain numerous aspects of the plot. He’s also the only person who can handle the dagger unscathed because, as he puts it, he’s immune to “witchcraft crap”. Given some of the movies Henriksen has appeared in, I’d argue he’s immune to all sorts of crap. He’s definitely immune to gunshots judging by the point-blank rifle blasts to the face and leg he takes during the dumb finale that not only don’t kill him, they don’t even stop him from talking or hobbling away. And to think this man once lost out on the role of The Terminator to Schwarzenegger.

Danny Trejo’s appearance is so blink-and-you-missed-it that I wonder if he just happened to be carpooling with one of the other actors and one day on the set they offered him a few bucks, gave him a shotgun, and had him appear in the background of a scene or two.

P.J. Soles … I guess I blinked and missed it (editor’s note: She plays Henriksen’s wife for about 2 seconds).

Blink and miss Alone in the Dark II while you’re at it. There’s really nothing to see here. It doesn’t even have the epic train wreck quality of Boll’s original. It’s just a plain ol’ bad movie.

“>“>

1 1/2 out of 5

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

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Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor

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Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.

On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.

The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.

While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.

What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.

While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.

  • Alive in New Light
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Summary

IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.

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