Alone in the Dark DVD Review

Some say director Uwe Boll is a hack. Some say he's talentless. Some say he's destroying perfectly good video games by making movies based on them. Anyone who ever spoke those words is correct. Alone in the Dark is his second game adaptation, and while his first (House of the Dead) can be viewed as totally ridiculous, inept entertainment, that doesn't fly with this creature feature.

Barely following any of the four games in the series, Alone in the Dark goes with the old "don't mess with an ancient civilization" routine to get started. The opening moments are the films brightest, and give viewers a false sense of security that just maybe this will be a decent flick. It's filled with a great fight and an awesome bullets-POV shot that is the movies best. After that, turn it off.

Whoever though Tara Reid could be taken seriously as a scientist of any type should be fired as a casting director. Christian Slater is the lead and is oddly strong in his role, ignoring the written dialogue he was given that's completely devoid of purpose. From the start, this is a nearly direct rip-off of the far better Relic, set up in a museum with an ancient beast on the loose.

Everything that happens here is bad. There's not an other adjective to make it any less painful, and it's not worth anyone's time to find one. There's a sequence where you can see nothing but gunfire and the actors against obviously super-imposed walls fighting against the not-yet-known to the audience antagonist. It never seems to end, and it feels like most of the action from House of the Dead, though thankfully Boll decided not to sloppily insert footage from the game like he did in his first movie.

It's a shame too, because the monster is a cool concept, able to camouflage itself in the dark, and the full reveals showcase a nice design, even if they are completely obvious as CG effects. The last half hour does pick things up with an intense stand off and brutal gore. It's almost enough to make it seem like this is tolerable.

The problem is that people have brains that allow them to think. This plotline makes no sense, and after test screenings, they were required to add a text introduction so it had some basis in logic and it could be followed. There's rarely an explanation for what's going on (some people seem to turn into zombies; others become the monsters. There's no reason given), why it happened, or how the characters are dumb enough not to figure out the "plot twist" in the first 20-minutes.

Top that off with what is a film only made to capitalize on a video game (and not follow anything in it other than the lead character's backstory) and this is a frustrating, aggravating, $20 million disaster. It's only a little over 90-minutes, and it feels twice as long. If that's not depressing enough, the ending sets it up for a sequel. (* out of *****)

With so much of the film taking place in the dark (obviously), it's imperative that the transfer maintains black levels. It does. In fact, this is just an all around gorgeous piece of DVD video, marred only by some heavy noise in the backgrounds and aliasing. These sequences are brief, and don't hinder the beautiful colors, accurate flesh tones, and clarity you simply need to see. It's very close to perfection on a movie that didn't deserve it. (****)

This DTS 6.1 mix included here is the obvious way to go. The 5.1 EX is the excellent alternative. Both are heavy on the bass (maybe even too much so), and are used to show how surround sound should work. The beasts run around everywhere, and you'll know where they are at all times. Gunfire finds a way into the surrounds regularly, and the stereo channels make sure everything is accurately captured in the fronts too. Even dialogue comes through the proper speaker depending on an actor's position. (*****)

Extras are not heavy, but entertaining for all the wrong reasons. The Uwe Boll commentary track is tough to understand at times due to his heavy accent, but you'll work through it just to hear him defend the film. He makes a strong case, and if you weren't watching it, you might actually believe this is a quality piece of filmmaking. Instead, it's almost like the opposite of a Mystery Science Theater episode.

A trivia track can run along with the film if you wish, but good luck trying to read it. Instead of just a subtitle track, it appears on screen inside a bright blue box with black text. It's not kind to the eyes at all, and even if you make it out, you're not missing too much. It really stretches the "trivia" portion by providing facts like Tera Reid's brothers profession.

Into the Dark is the standard making of. Uwe Boll was apparently approached by Atari (now the publisher of the franchise) to make the film because they somehow thought he was capable after watching House of the Dead. The head writer explains why it doesn't follow the games, but fails to explain why they even bothered basing it off them if that was the case. This is an eight-minute piece that doesn't provide much that you don't already know.

Shedding Light looks at the special effects from three sequences (including the awesome bullet-view shot). However, there's no discussion on the main creature, how it was achieved or designed. With 9-minutes to play with, there should be something here. There's also a separate animatic on the bullet sequence.

Six music videos begin to round things down. Follow that up with the storyboard to screen feature (done in split screen) for a nice look at the process of making a disaster. Finish with trailers for other films. (***)

House of the Dead made $3 million. Alone in the Dark lost $15 million. Uwe Boll is making six (yes, six) more video game movies, including the $30 million adaptation of Dungeon Siege and $25 million BloodRayne. If that's not a sign of the apocalypse, we'll never know what is.

Comments (1)


Okay, so I finally watched this movie. I had the lowest possible expectations. I thought this was going to be a bad, boring, hopeless piece of crap.

Interestingly, it wasn't. Okay, it's a piece of crap, but it's neither bad nor boring. Technically, the film is well done, with good scores, some interesting camera perspectives, good CGI and pretty great monsters. Sure, the script is complicated and stolen from Lincoln/Child novels (mostly The Relic, Attic and Thunderhead), but if you try to follow the story line, most of the stuff actually makes sense.

It also wasn't boring. The horror scenes gave me a few scares, and the action scenes are pretty well executed. The story is kinda complicated and has some inconsistencies and unexplained things, but it keeps the movie going and never really becomes uninteresting.

Sure, it's a bad movie, but compared to some of the stinking crapfests that came out of hollywood recently (like Electra, or Catwoman), this one holds up pretty well.

If you like horro/action flicks, give this one a chance. It's not as bad as everyone claims. It's crap, but it's entertaining, mostly well-made crap.

(I also wrote an imdb review)

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