Sunday, November 06, 2005

Alone in the Dark (2005)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

The author of this review had many bitter experiences with films not living to initial critical and box-office enthusiasm. Not surprisingly, experiences with critical and commercial failures weren't any better. However, at times it just happens that films universally perceived as cinema industry's equivalent of toxic waste turn out to be pleasant experiences. In case of 2005 action horror film ALONE IN THE DARK, "pleasant experience" translates into merely "not as bad as the reputation of director Uwe Boll".

The plot of the film is based on ALONE IN THE DARK, 1990s series of popular video games that belonged to survival horror genre. The protagonist is Edward Carnby (played by Christian Slater), survivor of traumatic childhood incident that had thought him to appreciate ancient fear of the dark. After career in Bureau 713, government's paranormal investigation agency, he now works as private investigator. He has recovered an artefact of Abkani, ancient American civilisation that vanished without trace 10,000 years ago. Because of that he is targeted by assassins hired by Prof. Lionel Hudgens (played by Matthew Walker), former Bureau 713 researcher who wants to open ancient gates between our world and world inhabited by nasty shadow-like monsters.

ALONE IN THE DARK should never be mistaken for a good film. Its poor box-office results are quite justified, but, on the other hand, almost pathological amounts of venom spewed by reviewers are not. ALONE IN THE DARK indeed features atrocious dialogue, protagonist's misplaced narration, poor editing and plenty of other questionable creative decisions. Casting doesn't belong to this category - veteran actors like Slater and Stephen Dorff (playing Carnby's former colleague) are quite relaxed in front of camera. Some of the action scenes are well-directed and even the ending - usually the weakest part of mainstream Hollywood films of the same genre - even makes some sort of sense.

Although far from deserving recommendation, ALONE IN THE DARK could spark interesting speculations about the reasons why its author is burdened with such notoriety while other authors with similar quality of opus are not. One of the explanations came in the form of conspiracy theory involving German tax laws and Boll using a loophole by deliberately making box office flops. Another explanation could be in Uwe Boll being a lightning rod for critics and often unjustly getting the treatment they are hesitant to spew on mainstream Hollywood products. In any case, ALONE IN THE DARK is better than expected, but, considering the reputation of its author, this isn't much of an achievement.

RATING: 3/10 (+)


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