Playing the most laughable hottie scientist since nuclear-physicist Denise Richards in "The World Is Not Enough," Tara Reid -- Hollywood's poster tart for partying hardy and bad breast implants -- produces one of the defining moments in the utterly inept supernatural action-horror flick "Alone in the Dark."
She's supposed to be a gifted archeologist specializing in rare Native American artifacts -- which when pieced together could open a portal to a monster-spewing parallel world -- yet as she catalogs these objects, she notes that one of them was discovered in "New Found Land."
Her snicker-inducing mispronunciation of the Canadian province clearly demonstrates that 1) Reid is anything but an educated scientist, 2) German director Uwe Boll hasn't learned English well enough to direct a movie in English, and 3) no one else involved with this picture cared enough to say "It's one word, pronounced noo-fhund-lund, you bimbo."
So hilariously bad that it's actually entertaining for about an hour, "Alone in the Dark" begins with an excessively lengthy on-screen scroll of backstory (read aloud by an echoing, ominously deep voice) about super-advanced lost civilizations, an ancient key that unlocks the "world of darkness," and Bureau 713, a secret government agency of bad actors in tight tank tops and backwards baseball caps that fights paranormal incursions into our "world of light."
Next we meet Christian Slater, squinting his way through his role as a nightmare-beset ex-agent of Bureau 713 who has struck out on his own, trying to discover why all the kids he grew up with at an orphanage in the 1970s have turned into zombies -- and the movie is all downhill from there.
Director Boll ("House of the Dead") -- a latter-day Ed Wood who fancies himself a cross between action-sytlish John Woo and B-movie horror-ific John Carpenter -- slaps the contrived, convoluted story together with third-rate dinner-theater actors, fourth-rate props (the Indian artifacts look like a 5th-grade art project), conspicuously sloppy stunts, $8 car chases, wildly swinging steady-cam shots and fashionably choppy editing, all set to a head-banging, screaming-vocalist Goth-grind soundtrack. He also ravages ideas from "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Alien" (the dripping jowls of the portal monsters), "Hellboy" (the monsters' generic-CGI design), "The Relic," and at least a dozen other gateway-to-hell genre movies.
But despite all the unintended laughs that keep "Alone" entertaining in its first cliché-riddled hour, Boll manages to let the movie get even worse -- by letting it get boring. He turns his attention to a gratuitous sex scene (without even taking advantage of his R-rating), or Slater's testosterone-fueled rivalry with the scowling, sexy-scruffy head of Bureau 713 (scenery-chomping Stephen Dorff), or a shootout sequence that is literally nothing but a montage of machine-gun muzzle flashes set to music. By the time the painfully nonsensical, monster-battling climax rolls around -- in a secret underground lab hidden in the bowels of an abandoned gold mine -- all the popcorn-throwing entertainment value has been sucked out of this eye-roller.
In the end, the movie is left with the same paltry elements it had at the beginning: Christian Slater desperate for a paycheck, Barbie-doll-blank Tara Reid trying to look intellectual by wearing heavy, black, "smart chick" glasses, an insipid oft-regurgitated plot from a paint-by-numbers screenplay, and a director who puts it all together like a cheap video game.
Run time: 96 mins
In Theaters: Friday 28th January 2005
Box Office USA: $5.1M
Box Office Worldwide: $8.2M
Distributed by: Lions Gate
Production compaines: Infogrames Entertainment, Boll Kino Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG, Herold Productions, Brightlight Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes: 1%
Fresh: 1 Rotten: 116
IMDB: 2.3 / 10
Director: Uwe Boll
Starring: Christian Slater as Edward Carnby, Tara Reid as Aline Cedrac, Stephen Dorff as Richard Burke, Frank C. Turner as Sam Fischer, Matthew Walker as Prof. Lionel Hudgens, Will Sanderson as Agent Miles, Mark Acheson as Captain Chernick (as Mark Atcheson), Darren Shahlavi as John Dillon, Karin Konoval as Sister Clara, Craig Bruhnanski as 80's Sheriff (as Craig Brunanski), Kwesi Ameyaw as Deputy Adams, Dustyn Arthurs as Young Edward, Catherine Lough Haggquist as Krash, Ed Anders as James Pinkerton, Brad Turner as Beat Cop
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