|The best comedy of the year is Alone in the Dark!|
Or so the text accompanying previews of this film should read. Laughable at every stage of the game, this film presents a modicum of style in certain moments, but the wardrobe choices of the costumer are quite possibly more interesting than the script itself. It might border on evil to label the performances in this film as horrifically bad, but the rather depressing thing is that everyone in the film seems to have been actively trying to put on a good show. And on the surface, this film's plot seems like it could have been an interesting one or at least one that could have read like a campy supernatural themed novel. Campy can be fun!
But the players in Alone in the Dark are rather more serious than need be in attempting to show a story that is as real as it is serious. There are various jokes cracked here and there, but certainly not enough to allow the audience to simply enjoy the inherent campy nature of the story. The filmmakers could have also allowed the story to reside firmly in the realm of the Dumb, thereby allowing viewers to simply enjoy the brainless ride, but again, the film and its actors take themselves far too seriously for that. It's a known fact that films can find success at the box office by displaying a goofy stupidity or by embracing a story's tendency for resembling a loony bin.
But director Uwe Boll, last seen in the director's chair of the likewise laughable House of the Dead, seems completely inept in his job and though he looks to be attempting to create a name for himself in the horror genre, his outings thus far have been anything but suspenseful. But does his failing to create a gripping film result from bad casting or a lackluster script? The answer probably resides only somewhere deep inside the uncreative brain of Uwe Boll. It's like he's tried to put together a theatrical film whose every element is poorly done.
And in the case of this latest venture, only the people responsible for the techno infused soundtrack can rest easy in their accomplishment. The songs chosen for the film might not always seem logical for their placement in the film, but standing alone, they are a good combination of hard rock and techno songs. And perhaps the make-up artists, whose talents were put to the test regarding various decapitated body parts and mangled corpses, should be patted on the back as well. Some of the technical achievements of the film might actually fall into the category of, "achievement."
But the bumbling script (actually, bumbling doesn't even come close to covering it. Writers Elan Mastai, Michael Roesch, and Peter Scheerer have created a shockingly lame screenplay) contains no real motivated plot and seems to exist solely for the purpose of creating a healthy body count. There's nothing that says a horror film has to be so darn dumb. But apparently the writers here have assumed that fans and frequent viewers of this genre have no standards. And in taking on such a noddy script, the theatrical abilities of this film's stars are called into serious question with their various "comedic" performances.
Tara Reid's theatrical ability is debatable in the best circumstances and her appearance in this film actually impedes on what little professional regard she might have earned from previous lackluster outings (My Boss's Daughter anyone?). As an employee in a museum, Reid is entirely wrong for the part of a suited bespeckled bookworm. Filmmakers make no apologies for the fact that she was chosen simply as eye candy. Dumb eye candy. Likewise, co-star Christian Slater, playing a paranormal investigator, has ridden a career of severe ups and downs and he should seriously consider firing his agent after this film's release.
The filmmakers could have taken this film into many different places and would have come out with something possessing at least a minimum of interest for the audience. They could have pushed it further into the stylistic MTV generation of films where the only things more important than the monsters themselves are the number of beauty products slathered on the stars' faces. Or they could have embraced the stupidity and camp of it all and been unapologetic about how unbelievable most of the story is. There's nothing wrong with creating a perfect direct-to-video film whose most comfortable place would be at the local video store. With the right amount of finesse, even those films can find a moderate box office.
Don't expect Alone in the Dark to exhibit that type of intelligence regarding its place in the natural order of things. This is a film that should have been canned before its release on an unsuspecting public. Sometimes films just aren't worth a look in any way, shape or form. Sometimes they fail on almost every level of creativity. It's a waste of time to place the blame on any one individual though. It is far more productive simply to label this film a mistake from start to finish.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.