Bad movies are a dime a dozen, but every so often, an out-and-out stinker like Alone in the Dark slinks into the marketplace. This horror film, spun off from an old Atari video game, is so inept on every level, you wonder why the distributor didn't release it straight to video, or better, toss it directly into the trash.
It arrives with an impenetrable back story that is scrolled across the screen while a solemn narrator reads the portentous text that establishes a mood of instant confusion.
The chaos that unfolds has something to do with the Abskani, an ancient culture that has been revived under the fiendish direction of a mad scientist (Mathew Walker) who operates out of an abandoned gold mine. In the rear of his laboratory is a locked portal to the underworld.
It's enough to say that Christian Slater is Edward Carnby, a paranormal investigator who grew up in the same orphanage (directly on top of the gold mine) from which 19 children mysteriously disappeared two decades earlier. Edward is accompanied by his ex-girlfriend Aline (Tara Reid), an anthropologist specializing in Abskani artifacts, and the hotheaded leader (Stephen Dorff) of a paranormal SWAT team. Large chunks of the movie are taken up with machine-gun fire programmed to crunching heavy metal and directed at bounding spidery monsters intent on taking over the world.
Alone in the Dark looks as though it had been thrown into a shredder and then randomly reassembled. For reputable actors like Slater and Dorff, it is an embarrassment that smacks of career desperation, but at least they hold their own. About Reid's clumsy cue-card readings, the less said the better.
In the language of metacritic.com, a Web site that translates critical assessments into numerical grades, I give Alone in the Dark a zero.
Alone in the Dark
Directed by: Uwe Boll
Starring: Christian Slater (Edward Carnby), Tara Reid (Aline Cedrac), Mathew Walker (Hudgens) and Stephen Dorff (Richards)
Running time: 96 minutes