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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

eFilmcritic archive: "Alone In the Dark" (2005)

Film critics sometimes have to face this dilemma, especially those who love “so bad, they’re good” movies. Here’s my problem: If I had a good time reveling in the awfulness of Uwe Boll’s “Alone In the Dark,” does that warrant a recommendation? Am I in danger of sending out the wrong message if I give this awful movie a 3-star rating or above? Many people who look at critics’ reviews never bother to read the full article. They see the 4-star rating and think, “Wow, it must be good. Honey, pack up the kids and let’s go see ‘The Woodsman.’” It does happen and I don’t want people to think I’m recommending this movie because it’s good.

So, let’s set the record straight right now. “Alone in the Dark” is awful, cheesy, derivative nonsense with bad acting, bad casting and bad directing and that’s exactly what I paid to see. It is perfect Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder and should elevate Uwe Boll’s status as this generation’s Ed Wood. I mean that lovingly, of course, for here we have a director so clueless of his incompetence, I almost don’t want to incite a cult out of fear he’ll start pandering and purposely make bad movies. I wouldn’t want that. This guy makes horrible movies and I love ‘em just the way they are.

Some people don’t subscribe to the so-bad-it’s-good philosophy and I don’t blame them. Bad movies should not be rewarded, but sometimes I can’t help it. Some movies reach a level of laughable stupidity that strikes a nerve with me and I can’t help but feel grateful for their existence. On a night out with some of my funniest friends, I would much rather sit through a Uwe Boll film and have some laughs at its expense than to walk out of an equally derivative movie like “Les Choristes” and feeling insulted for getting suckered into an arthouse to watch a cliché-ridden hackjob…because it’s French!

Boll is German and therefore funnier. “Alone in the Dark,” his follow-up to the sublime defecation “House of the Dead,” follows the adventures of Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), a paranormal investigator who roams the earth looking scruffy and whose house looks like backstage of the Goodman Theater. He solemnly narrates lines such as “Fear has a way of protecting you from things you don’t believe in” while getting chased through a fish market by a hulking wrestler who can’t be stopped with mere bullets.

Never mind. Carnby also happens to be an abductee from an orphanage 20 years ago. He holds with him a secret artifact that looks like a crumpled up leftover tuna fish sandwich, but nevertheless has the power to control evil demons. Everyone wants this artifact, including Professor Hudgens (Matthew Walker), a gray-haired, bearded mad scientist-type (can’t go wrong with a mad scientist). Hudgens belongs to a governmental paranormal research team, with a military unit run by Commander Richards (Stephen Dorff). Their job is to stand around and look at computer screens all day until something monumental happens.

Of course, something does and it’s big, stupid, slimy and derivative of “Alien.” Sometimes, they can be killed off, but sometimes not. Not sure shy, but not to worry, we got Carnby to root for! That would be fine in and of itself, but as an added bonus, we also have his on-again-off-again love interest Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid). She plays an anthropologist. With nuances that evoke only the finest of porn stars, she ties her hair back and she wears horn-rimmed glasses to fit the role. Come the love scene, she strips herself of this oppressive façade and “OH MY GOD, SHE’S HOT! I HAD NO IDEA!” Better yet, she pronounces Newfoundland as New…FOUND…land.

The best way to sum up what kind of blissful awfulness this movie contains is to look at said love scene. Aline basically stops by Carnby’s house to nail him. To music. Bad music. Bad LOVE BALLAD music. AND IT’S THEIR SECOND OR THIRD SCENE TOGETHER! When played straight, this tender moment achieves the exact same effect as the sex scene between the two puppets in “Team America: World Police,” music and all. The movie pretty much operates on that level all the way through, right up to the finale, which contains probably the most unintentionally hilarious closing credits song of all time. Seriously, you would think Trey Parker wrote and directed this movie.

“Alone in the Dark” doesn’t quite achieve the jaw-dropping level of ingenious craptitude as its predecessor “House of the Dead,” but it comes close and close is close enough for a recommendation if you’re looking to book a great Bad Film Festival. This movie doesn’t have the inexplicable random cuts to the video game on which it’s based, nor does it have the nonsensical rapid-fire flashback sequence that helped make “House of the Dead” a Bad Movie legend. Yet, it exists in the same stratosphere. I had a great time at these two trashy movies, but if this doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time and you don’t have any friends to bring with you to crack jokes, then don’t take any of this as a recommendation. Take this review for what it’s worth. It’s the best so-bad-it’s-good movie since “Paparazzi.”

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