Oh, Uwe Boll. Not only were you terrible with comedy, you don’t seem to understand the basics of horror/action filmmaking either. Or dialogue. Or human interactions.
Alone in the Dark starts with an impossibly long text crawl that explains, in confusing detail, the world that the movie takes place in. The thing is, what’s actually there isn’t that far removed from what other movie that combine paranormal investigative teams, ancient cults, and otherworldly dangers. I was reminded of Hellboy, and while Hellboy isn’t Guillermo del Toro’s greatest work, it does cleanly establish the rules of its alternate version of reality that involves Rasputin, the Old Gods, a demon baby, a secret government organization, and a few Nazis trying to bring about the end of the world. Alone in the Dark tells a similar story but it’s told in such a convoluted way that it’s really hard to simply figure out what is going on.
There are flashbacks to the main character’s childhood that seem to end with implications of a bunch of dead kids, but they’re all alive twenty years later and have been turned into some kind of unkillable monster zombies. There’s talk of a secret division of the government out for paranormal research and defense, but its history is really unclear until the very end when some of it gets cleared up (way too late to matter). The basic professional relationship between the professor who disappears and reappears at will and the secret division is muddled at best. This movie didn’t have to be a great work of art to just arrange the information of how everything works together across, but it also wouldn’t have taken that much effort. Maybe Boll was trying to be unpredictable, but he ended up just being confusing. Or, he’s just an awful storyteller who has no idea what he’s doing. There’s always that.
To make the movie experience even worse, it’s not populated with characters but human looking automatons that spout expository gibberish at each other. No one seems to have a discernable motivation to do anything. They do it because it is their type and they are in an action horror movie, so those types must be followed. Dialogue is stilted and unnatural and most of the actors are really just sleepwalking through the whole thing. The only exception is Stephen Dorff. Poor Stephen Dorff…he was almost Aragorn, you know. He gives his all in this “film” as the badass and hardnosed leader of a squad of secret government paranormal troopers. He throws tables and emotes, dammit, he emotes, but the character is threadbare and no one else around him cares.
The movie is also largely flatly lit. Everything set inside during the day looks like it was filmed for a cheap television show. There are no shadows and everything seems so two-dimensional. When the CG monsters attack, the lights go out and we get a bunch of darkness that’s equally flat. The absolute low point of the film is probably the moment when there’s a desperate attack on our “heroes” in the dark with guns blazing, and the music cranks up some kind of pulse pounding hard rock. It’s so completely antithetical to the idea of how to build a sequence in an action/horror film that I laughed.
This film is shoddily made, confusingly assembled, boringly performed (save poor Stephen Dorff), and doesn’t understand the basic building blocks of a horror sequence. Oh, Uwe Boll, my life would have been better had I not decided to try your “movies” out.