Alone in the Dark

Bomb Rating: 

Look, I suppose on some level where plot, character development, believability, and style could all be measured objectively, "Alone in the Dark" might be considered one of the worst films ever made. However, I don't honestly think that anybody with a brain could possibly be expecting much out of a film that casts Tara Reid as an archaeologist.

Actually, there was a lot to think about in this film, like the fact that Tara Reid plays an archaeologist, which means that her character ostensibly spent, at a minimum, four years pursuing a Ph.D. This is a woman who can't make it through a five-minute photo session without noticing that one of her breasts is out of her dress. Can anybody imagine her on a dig or cataloging delicate items in a museum? I spent half the movie thinking I was watching a very elaborate brain teaser.

The plot also had me guessing. If I understand correctly (and I'm not even going to claim that I do), Edwardy Carnby (Christian Slater) is a paranormal investigator. As a child, he was a victim of an experiment that promises to turn him into some kind of zombie when the gate between dark and light is opened. This gate will be opened when certain artifacts are gathered from an ancient Indian culture called the Abkani.

Now, again, if I'm remembering correctly, the Abkani was an Indian culture of ancient America. However, the artifacts are scattered all over the farthest reaches of the Earth, to which either Christian Slater or Tara Reid (I want to think it was Tara) exclaims, "Why would they hide them in all these hard-to-reach places?" I didn't care much about the "why" of it, but the "how" definitely caused my brain to short-circuit a bit.

However, this pondering all stopped once I concluded that director Uwe ("House of the Dead") Boll must have been drunk during the entire filming and editing process. Either that or the German doesn't speak any English at all and was communicating everything to cast and crew using hand signals. It's also possible that the script was in German, although I now am convinced that Tara Reid is fluent in seven different languages and can also communicate with deaf people, so I think she should have been able to translate or at least figure out most of the Latin root words and make an educated guess about the overall meaning.

There was also this incredibly interesting nugget of wisdom from Carnby (or some other character -- who cares?): "Fear is what protects you from the things you don't believe in." Trying to figure that out kept me going for like a couple of hours and the movie is only 90 minutes long.

To be honest, I was also impressed by Tara's hair bun and glasses, which are supposed to make us believe she's smart. She only wears the glasses when she's working with small objects, which means that her character is farsighted. I figured - and would have bet real money - that Boll would almost certainly screw up the consistency of that by having Tara use her glasses to peer into the distance or treat them as a food source in a moment of hunger. However, she's always wearing them at the right times. Incredibly impressive!

I was also perplexed and somewhat amazed by the film's score, which slides between the music of "MacGyver" and "The English Patient." Even though the artifacts haven't all been found, monsters appear, kids start zombifying, and Commander Richards (Stephen Dorff) of Agency 713 shows up and starts screaming at everyone, including Carnby because they used to work together. Dorff pretty much has two emotive states: screaming or grunting like he's secretly looking for a bathroom.

This movie also features invisible monsters who have the ability to materialize at will, but always seem to do so far enough away from the main characters that they're more likely to run into a telephone pole than actually catch anyone. I couldn't figure out why they just didn't remain still and then materialize right in front of the characters and rip their heads off and be done with it. They didn't seem very smart, although they did manage to maim lots of characters who weren't on the marquee.

Ultimately, I think Agency 713 was so named because those numbers add up to eleven and that's as high as Uwe Boll can count.

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