Video Game Adaptations: Alone in the Dark
This had to happen eventually, but after Resident Evil aggravated me intensely I thought “Fuck it, I’ll grab the nettle and take on the lowest of the low” and so, with heavy heart, it’s time to address the monster that is Dr. Uwe Boll.
There’s no way of getting round this- Uwe Boll makes consistently awful films. His modus operandi is to find a video game with a reasonable following or brand cachet of some description and then plow over the top of it like a Panzer Division in 1940 France. The movies are actually so awful he makes Paul W. S. Anderson look like a blazing talent. Movies so bad that he manages to take any interest in the film and just crush it to death beneath the caterpillar tracks of sheer incompetence. He is arguably the modern equivalent of Ed Wood, except without the pleasant naiveté and absence of self-awareness. Arguably, his greatest achievement in terms of sheer awfulness is the record-breaking Alone in the Dark. Believe it or not, this did actual break a few records, including “lowest gross ever by a video game adaptation”. Unfortunately, the Germans then showed the predictable lack of taste that made David Hasselhoff their greatest selling recording artist by flocking to buy this terrible film on DVD making it number 1 for 3 weeks straight. Either that, or they were displaying a hitherto unsuspected sense of irony. I go for the former.
The question is regarding Dr. Boll: how the fuck does he get the casts that he does? Alone in the Dark stars Christian Slater, Tara Reid and Stephen Dorff and has nothing on some of the actors appearing in his other films. They must know that these are awful? I mean it is obvious to even a casual observer that these films suck cock. This is, admittedly, a particularly bad example as it is a particularly bad film, but still, if I was a name actor and was approached to star in a Uwe Boll film, I would at least watch some of his other, for wont of a better expression, work before I signed up.
Alone in the Dark opens with an interminable scrolling prelude. This prelude waffles some bollocks about some tribe and the world of darkness. Apparently these Incans/Aztecs/Don’tgiveafucks managed to go extinct because some genius managed to open the door to the world of shadows. I was, actually, already bored by this point. Nevertheless, in the name of writing a rude article intentionally not mentioning the war (which war? Both), I plunged on. I kind of wish I hadn’t.
The film proper opens with an inexplicable car chase. Christian Slater, playing Carnaby, is in the back of a taxi being pursued, like the Hun midfield pursued Geoff Hurst in 1966 (utterly futile), by a big bald geezer wearing sunglasses. This then leads to some fisticuffs of some description before nothing very interesting happens. Tara Reid then pitches up as an extremely unlikely scientist type (as unlikely as Germany apologising for their musical atrocities) examining something or other. Some monsters appear, I think, there’s a lot of gunplay, there’s some nonsense with parasites that possess people turning them into zombie type things, Stephen Dorff pitches up as head of some silly Area 51 type section, the door to the world of shadows is opened again, then it’s closed and the film ends in a really stupid way.
This film is bollocks, it’s giant hairy bollocks, and deeply annoying bollocks. The acting in it fluctuates between woeful (Reid), bored (Slater) and “What the fuck am I doing in this shit” (Dorff). Reid’s character in particular is intensely irritating, being a combination of shrew, moron, slag and genius- not that Dr. Boll is capable of recognising that this is completely contradictory. Dorff and Slater’s parts could have been played by anyone, and even any old mug off the street could have put in more effort than they did. I’ve always liked Slater, I love Heathers for example, but I can’t think of a film where he’s put less of a performance in than this one. Dorff, on the other hand, is so deliberately not trying, he’s almost actively attempting to be bad.
The writing is obviously shit. Apparently, Boll knew nothing about the game (I like to think he knows nothing about anything) and when presented with the original script (which was Survival Horror, because Alone in the Dark is, er, Survival Horror) complained that it didn’t have enough car chases. What the fuck? Anyway, that script was thrown out, and instead we’ve got Boll’s vision to admire. Which is wonderful. I actually wonder if he hasn’t seen an awful lot of films, and just decides to cherry pick things he likes from them, without the slightest idea what makes them successful
Nevertheless, as bad as the script is, and it’s bad, the worst thing about Alone in the Dark is the way the action is shot. The monsters in this film are shadow creature things that die in direct light. Now to film this successfully would be a challenge for even the most adept film-maker (which undoubtedly Dr. Boll is not), and here, predictably, the ball is dropped. Uwe just jackboots across entertainment by filming ludicrously complicated and flashy scenes, in pitch black, illuminated by frequent muzzle flares. You can’t see a fucking thing that’s going on. However, the real howler is the sex scene between Slater and Reid. Not only is this completely gratuitous, but he again fucks it up by not showing any skin, confusingly shooting everything so you can’t see what’s going on and then copying Boxing fucking Helena in the Soundtrack choice. I know Germans are a bit behind when it comes to music, but, Uwe, Enigma were popular for approximately half an hour back in the mid 90’s- making a film and using a completely overused song (It’s either Sands of Time or Carly’s Song, not sure- if it’s the latter, that’s even worse because that’s from the Sliver soundtrack) by Enigma is the high point of uselessness.
Overall, this is a shit film that I suggest anyone with eyes and/or ears (actually fuck it, this also applies to Helen Keller) should avoid. It’s fucking dismal toss of the lowest order and the least interesting 90 minutes odd that I’ve endured in a while. I’ve been accused of throwing the Orangutan of Doom around like confetti, but this is such a bloated, hateful incomprehensible bucket of shit that I have no qualms at all about awarding Alone in the Dark my first Orangutan of Doom on this series. Fuck you Uwe, this is dire.
I cannot believe I’ve wasted over 1100 words on this. Seeing as Germans are good with the concept of collective guilt, I suggest that they should dust it down just for Uwe Boll. He’s your fault, Germany.
Until next time,