Alone In The Dark (2005)

Someone at Comcast must be reading this blog. I fired up good ol’ Channel 1 to see what the new free movies were for November, and was met with an absolute bevy of video game-based crapola.

We’ll start with the alphabetical frontrunner, Alone In The Dark. AITD is kind of a bizarre series to base a Hollywood movie on. It was groundbreaking and popular on the PC, but oldhead PC gamers constitute a pretty tiny fragment of the population compared to mainstream gamers who’ve likely never heard of the series at all. They made some newer games for consoles in the 2000s but my understanding is those never developed more than a small following either. So this is clearly a tight-budget project with veteran cinematic dump-taker Eww Bowels (link goes to an actual thing that this man did in reality) at the helm and Christian Slater and Tara Reid as your lead characters.


Uwe’s relationship with his audience

Alright, so the first three AITD games were set in the 1920s, and Edward Carnby was a tough private investigator who somehow kept getting sucked into mysteries that involved fighting Lovecraftian cults. This was back in the early 90s before everyone in the universe started doing Lovecraft/Chtulu stuff, so the setting was unique and interesting and it had a lot of goofy charm. This probably could have translated well into a film with a capable director respectful of source material and a decent budget. Instead we got this. Bowels instead based the film on the more recent two games released in the 2000s, which were essentially “reboots” that moved the timeframe to the present day and replaced all the Lovecraft stuff with, um … well I haven’t played the newer games, but judging by the movie, invisible dinosaurs and nearly invincible bald supermen.

….

The movie starts out with one of these. Young movie-makers out there, don’t ever do this. This is like telling the audience in advance that you have no idea how to effectively use the medium of cinema to tell a story. This thing sets the pace for the rest of the movie, in which the story between action scenes is mostly advanced by characters just standing still spouting exposition at one another.

Alright, so the gimmick with this thing is usually to do a sort of summary in a flippant style with amusing screencaps. But you know what, with this one, I just can’t. AITD is the worst kind of bad – completely boring and colorless. It’s not over the top, it doesn’t have terrible acting flubs, or lulzy special effects. It’s perhaps the most competent attempt to make a completely boring, uninteresting film I’ve seen since Ed Wood’s most boring pictures. I watched about 30 minutes and it was just so tedious I had to quit.

In a way, it’s a fitting tribute to the game series. AITD the game series is a poster child for failed potential – the first one was the groundbreaking/defining game of the “survival horror” genre, but the series spun off quickly into mediocrity and got outshined/supplanted by Resident Evil. AITD the film is a cast of massively failed potential. Christian Slater was supposed to be the next Jack Nicholson at one time, now he’s at the point where he’s grateful for scoring a lead role in a Uwe Boll video game adaptation. Stephen Dorff was going to be the next … well, maybe not the next anything, but he was a hot villain choice for action blockbusters in the 1990s and wouldn’t have even looked at something like AITD then, I’m sure. Tara Reid has the look to be at least be an upper-tier piece of professional eye candy, but devolved into a coked-out party skank almost immediately after becoming famous. And what is disappointment for all the fans is that Tara Reid is not losing her bra. Though it’s not like that something that’s hard to find on the internet.

AITD needs a whole lot of help, though if I was forced to start with one aspect I’d go with pacing and narrative style. Its 1% professional critic approval rating lands it at #15 in Rotten Tomatoes all-time worst reviewed movies list, but it’s beaten out by a number of 0%s, and audience reviews are a little more generous with it at 21% approval.

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One Response to “Alone In The Dark (2005)”

  1. I loved the first game, it’s a classic. I don’t think I’ll ever watch the movie. It’d probably give me an aneurysm.


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