Thursday, June 12, 2014

#69 Alone in the Dark (Wes)

Alone in the Dark
After having to sit through the undoubtedly bad, but still fun cheese-fest video game adaptions of Ballistics: Ecks vs Sever and Streetfighter, I approached Alone in the Dark with trepidation, but also hope that maybe there would be some saving grace to our next game based movie. Then it was pointed out to me that this was directed by Uwe Boll and suddenly I knew the true meaning of terror.

Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), is a paranormal detective who gets an ancient Abkani (an Indian tribe that mysteriously disappeared 10,000 years ago) trinket. Whilst taking it to his Archeologist ex-girlfriend, Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), he gets attacked by James Pinkerton, who despite possessing Supernatural abilities, fails to steal the trinket. Whilst this is happening an ancient gold coffin is opened realeasing something that leads to the mysterious disapperance of an old friend of Carnby’s. Carnby investigates this believing it has something to do with the Abkani and after he and Cedrac are attacked by a mysterious creature he eventually teams up with Bureau 713, led by Commander Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff). Together they investigate the paranormal creatures and the sinister experiments that were done on Carnby and his friends whilst they were growing up in an orphanage. When they discover the creatures can be killed by light, a whole squadron then joins them to try and kill these monsters and prevent the ending being left open for a sequel. They fail at one of these.

I think the first point I need to make about this movie, if you haven’t already noticed it, is that although it’s called Alone in the Dark, there’s normally more people involved in fighting these monsters than there are in your average Anabelle Chong movie. Unfortunately having bought the rights for a video game tie-in they had to make at least one thing similar to the game, even if it was only the title and the main characters name.
Speaking of the main character, it was thoroughly depressing to see Christian Slater reduced to being in this movie. He is brilliant in my favourite ever movie, True Romance, and I once saw him perform in a stage production of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest in London and he was an incredible actor. His portrayal of Jack McMurphy was just as good as Jack Nicholson’s, perhaps even better if you consider that he didn’t have the luxury of multiple takes. To see him fax in his performance (he was so flat and lifeless you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d accidentally tuned into The X-Factor) made watching this movie even more disappointing than usual for me.

As for the supporting cast, Tara Reid is an actress who is so wooden in everything she does, I sometimes suspect that one day loads of tiny ancient Greek soldiers will burst out of her in a bid to invade Hollywood. Even a tornado full of sharks was more convincing to watch, so I never expected much from her here, and I really wasn’t disappointed. Stephen Dorff however is a different matter. He’s another decent actor, who has played some great roles in his career (Deacon Frost in Blade is my favourite), who just goes through the motions for this movie.

As I said before the fact that Uwe Boll directed this filled me with dread. Now you may not be aware of Uwe’s work, as most (I’m guessing all actually) of it ends up straight to DVD. They’re the sort of movies that you may see in the DVD bargain bins or local pound shops, and then promptly used as DIY disco-balls or bird-scarers (it’s amazing what Google can suggest when you have a recently aquired pile of terrible DVDs for some reason). He’s responsible for such classics as German Fried Movie, Amoklauf and Bluberella…. But when he’s not making other movies you’ll never watch, unless your eyelids are cut off and you’re strapped into a chair by some psychotic killer (even then you could always attempt to swallow your own tongue), he also is infamous for making videogame adaptions.

As well as Alone in the Dark, Uwe has also directed several films based on Bloodrayne. House of the Dead, Postal and Far Cry. He also once told MTV News about being rejected by Blizzard to direct a World of Warcraft movie: "I got in contact with Paul Sams of Blizzard and he said, 'We will not sell the movie rights, not to you...especially not to you".

But Uwe doesn’t do himself any favours as in the same interview he also said "To be honest, the real gamers are the typical download guys, right? They don't pay anything for movies, because they illegally download the movies. So why [should I] please these guys? I need the normal audience." Surely the core audience, those that will not only watch the movie, but buy the merchandise and talk about it most, providing free advertising, are those who are most emotionally invested into it. I think this is where Marvel have gone right in recent years, recognizing that it’s the fans of their comics who are the most likely to watch their movies and have celebrated their origins, making them as faithful to the comics as they can without making something silly. If Uwe tried this approach, then perhaps he’d have more success too. Although I actually doubt that, seeing as though videogames are not normally the best source for a rich story (except perhaps some of the other survival horror style games).

The problem with this movie as a horror movie is that it isn’t remotely scary or tense in any sense, nor does it have the gore that would otherwise keep an audience watching. It’s reminiscent of The Relic, or Pitch Black in places, but it completely fails to pull off any of the charm that those movies had. It also reminds me slightly of Constantine. Not just due to the supernatural element, but mostly due to the fact that both movies really failed to deliver on their source material.
Under a better director I suspect that this could have been an average watchable movie, but with Boll in charge this movie really is terrible. A weak story, poor acting, CGI monsters that even George Lucas wouldn’t use, less scares than an episode of Barney the Dinosaur and Tara Reid, add up to possibly the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen Death Bed). I think it's about time Uwe tried to sound more American if he wants to change his image. Can I suggest he changes his name to Terry Boll? (sorry, couldn't resist that).