ALONE IN THE DARK

R
Reviews

When will people learn that video games never make good movies? From Super Mario Brothers to Tomb Raider, there is not a single game-to-film translation that is worth the price of admission, let alone the cost of a rental. (Yes, I know that there are defenders of Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil-they're wrong). As bad as previous video-game movies have been, though, Uwe Boll's Alone in the Dark (based on the Atari video game of the same name) easily qualifies as the nadir of this woebegone genre, even surpassing 2003's House of the Dead, which was also directed by Boll. That movie was terrible, but at least it contained a relatively straightforward storyline: A bunch of party-hearty teenagers land on a deserted island and are steadily picked off by killer zombies. I have absolutely no idea what Alone in the Dark is supposed to be about, except that it asks us to believe that Christian Slater is a butt-kicking paranormal investigator and, more improbably, that Tara Reid could get a job as an assistant curator for a major museum. Forget about demon monsters from another dimension, Reid's glassy-eyed line readings are the scariest things in the film.

Demon monsters, you say? Yes, they are the heavies here, although their exact reasons for attacking Earth remain a mystery. A ridiculously long-and borderline incomprehensible-opening-credits crawl attempts to give us some background, but it quickly becomes clear that none of those details really matter. All you need to know is that these monsters are big, mean and poorly animated, and it's up to Christian, Tara and a bemused Stephen Dorff to save the day. On second thought, that is actually the scariest part of the film.

It's become fashionable to bemoan the recent rash of comic-book movies that have been cluttering up the multiplexes, but comics remain a much better source of material than video games. At least they present filmmakers with actual characters; in a video game, the player is the character, so very little thought goes into assigning them interesting personalities. It's up to the screenwriter to fill in the blanks and they've usually been instructed to focus on action over story or character. Had the action sequences in Alone in the Dark been halfway decent, the terrible dialogue and incompetent direction might be easier to ignore. But there's nothing even remotely entertaining about this film-audiences should stay home and play the original (or one of its numerous sequels) on Playstation instead.