Uwe Boll is like the Michael Bay of horror movies, in that the
general reaction to his name among genre fans is, at best, one of derision, at
worst…well, don’t ask.
The interesting thing is that, over on these shores, he’s largely known for the films he’s directed from video games—House of the Dead, Bloodrayne (in theatres as we type this, but probably not when we post it) and tonight’s feature, Alone in the Dark. In an interview I read recently, his next few projects appear to be more video game adaptations, which is odd, since most folks (admittedly biased) seem to think he does rather poorly at these.
I’ve seen House of the Dead, and thought it was pretty stupid but otherwise entertaining. Will I fall into the clutches of the anti-Boll legions after seeing Alone in the Dark? Let’s find out! Hey…where’s everybody going?
We start out with a pre-credit crawl, which is also read out loud to us. This tends to be a bad sign, but Screamers started that way and that was a good film. (The voice is very precise in pronunciation, but oddly flat and with hints of an accent, leading me to believe that English is not this man’s primary language.)
The credit crawl tells us that in 1967, some miners found remnants of an ancient Indian civilization called “The Arkani.” The Arkani believed that the world was actually two worlds put together, one of light and one of darkness. Ten thousand years ago, the Arkani managed to open a gate between the worlds, and “before they could close it, something evil slipped through.”
The Arkani then disappeared. Raise your hand if this surprised you, what with their artifacts being discovered in a mine. According to our informative credit crawl, “only a few of their artifacts remained, hidden in world’s most remote places.” All over the world? That was quite some civilization to vanish overnight, but, you know, if you go around opening gates into the dark world, that’s generally what you get.
Anyway, the artifacts have some information about monsters who “thrive in the darkness” and are “waiting for the day when the gate can be opened again.” I hope no one reading this is thinking “Oh good” because that reader is probably Mom again. Hi Mom! Sorry I haven’t called, but you know, uh….
Next, we hear that Bureau 713, “the Government’s paranormal research agency” decided to study these artifacts. Lionel Hudgens, the guy directing this research, apparently got under some folks’ noses, so he was dismissed, but he was pretty obsessed (one guesses) and he set up his own lab in an abandoned gold mine.
”There,” says our credit crawl, “he conducted savage experiments on orphaned children in an attempt to merge man with creature. Hudgens’ victims survived as “Sleepers” – lost souls awaiting the moment of their calling.”
Sounds like Dr. Hudgens (I assume he was a doctor) was going a bit outside the limits of his charter, there. Of course, it doesn’t say which Government set this up. But the last time someone did something like this, he set up a lab in a Mesa of Lost Woman and the world of cinema suffered terribly. Science should learn from mistakes like that! Otherwise it’s not science, it’s just fooling around.
Anyway, our credit crawl concluded, we get the credits, interspersed with footage of someone running through a night forest, away from some guards and guard dogs. This running person appears to be a youth.
But enough of that, it’s “22 Years Ago” according to the caption, and a couple of folks enter a room and turn on the light. A woman says that the children are her responsibility, while the man says that the children were specially selected, and if his research is successful, thousands of lives can be saved. “It’s not about a few children,” he says, using an argument sure to fall on deaf ears, “it’s about the future of our species!”
As she turns away, we see that the woman is a nun, so I’m going to guess that these children are orphans and the man is Dr. Hudgens. “Anyway,” he says, “it’s too late for doubt now. The process has already started.” Oh man, she’s not going to loose the mutant children on the world out of misguided compassion, is she?
She turns to face him. “Just do what we agreed,” he says. “At ten PM, call the police, and you tell them, the children have disappeared.”
Just then, an underling appears to note that “the subjects have been transported.” Dr. Hugens thinks this is good, til the underling tells them they’ve only got nineteen out of twenty.
Well, Dr. Hudgens uses a naughty word, and he and underling go out to round up the missing tot. The nun looks kind of Whoa about this.
Outside, we track really fast toward the power block thing (it has a sign that says “High Voltage”) and we cut to inside the block, where there’s a kid in pajamas looking pretty downhearted. The music is right along with him in being downhearted.
But enough of that, we cut to the outside of the orphanage, where a police car is pulling up. There are already lots of cops there (the lighting, with the flashing red and blue lights against the swing sets, is pretty cool) and one of them is taking down the nun’s story. Much to my chagrin, she’s telling it exactly how Dr. Hudgens told her to.
And we cut back to the kid in the power block, specifically, we zoom into his pupil, where we see two vaguely dog-like monsters fight briefly over who gets to look through the eye. The alpha monster wins, and we cut to Christian Slater waking up in an airplane.
Here’s the thing. The kid in the power block had hair swept back, and so does Christian Slater. Are they one and the same? Discuss. Now stop! Now discuss again. Ha ha, I can play you like a violin!
Ahem. Anyway, Christian Slater wakes up. A kid next to him asks him he had a nightmare, adding, “My mommy tells me there’s nothing to be afraid of in the dark.”
Christian, being all actor-y, tells the kid his mother is wrong, “Being afraid of the dark is what keeps most of us alive.” The kid really looks like he’s been sucker-punched. Oh no, mom’s wrong about something! A stranger told me. A stranger whose career has him appearing in Uwe Boll movies.
Sorry for begging your indulgence, but Christian appeared to be flipping through a magazine called “Spooky” which had, as its back cover, a mirror image of its front; he then, I guess, handed the kid his copy for some odd reason (“Here’s some stuff to be afraid of in the dark, kid! Don’t show your mother this magazine.”). Either that, or both Christian and the Kid (sounds like a sitcom) had the same magazine. Usually when I fly it’s just some “Skyline” magazine or something with an article about towels.
Anyway, enough of those airplane hi-jinks, we now cut to a ship out in the middle of the ocean, sometime near sunset. An old guy (I guess on the boat, he’s shot in close-up) tells someone on his cell phone that Christian is coming into the airport, and he has an artifact. Old Guy tells his phone friend to take the artifact and kill Christian. Off the side of the boat, a one-man sub is being brought back up from the depths.
But enough of that. Enough I say! We cut to the airport. Christian, having deplaned, is going toward a cab. He starts to narrate! “So maybe you think I’m an a**hole, scaring that kid for no reason.” Well, the thought had occurred, Christian. “Actually, I’m just trying to protect him. You see, there’s a world around you that you’ve trained yourself not to see.” Yes, it’s generally made up of movies like this, but please go on. “Call it paranormal, supernatural, occult, whatever.” He slams the roof of the cab, the cabbie (a hippy-ish guy) wakes up and gets in. Christian gets in the passenger seat. “But inside all of us is an uncontrollable fear of the dark.” The cab drives off. “Kids are told it’s irrational, but it’s not. Fear is what protects you from the things you don’t believe in.”
The cab has gone, now, so we follow some stewardesses as they approach the airport, then pan to another cab. Actually, we pan to follow the stewardesses. “But I learned the truth a long time ago. Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it can’t kill you.”
And we stop panning on another cab, with a bald, very mean looking driver in it. He drives off. We cut to Christian’s cab and he continues. “When I was ten I lost my memory, gone, erased. I know something bad happened back then at the orphanage. I’ve been looking for answers ever since.” Inside the cab, the driver looks back at Christian. “You don’t have to believe me.” Okay, thanks! “My name is Edward Carnby and I’m here to protect you from the things you don’t believe.” And he opens up a small pouch and takes out an Arkani artifact. Well, that’s what it has to be. It looks like a dinosaur face, or like an alligator or something like that.
The cabbie engages him in conversation, asking Christian what he does. “You don’t wanna know,” Christian answers while I roll my eyes.
The cabbie laughs. “Sure I do! That’s part of the job, you know, learning about people’s lives!”
Christian, resigned that he might as well get it over with, says, “I’m a paranormal investigator.” Cabbie laughs and asks if he’s serious (using an adjective I won’t type here). Christian notices the cab that’s been following them, and cabbie says he’ll try to lose them.
He does this by pulling into the same lane as the other cab. Then he cuts across traffic to make a right turn, but the Evil Cab does the same—in fact, the Evil Cab is now only feet behind Christian’s cab. There’s a bit of a chase, with the Evil Cab ramming the Good Cab (cabbie wailing about how insurance won’t cover this and his boss will kill him, etc), then Christian suggests the marketplace. This turns out to be a bad plan, since the Good Cab is slammed against a wall (the cabbie’s face has blood on it). Evil Cab backs up to do some major ramming, and does. Christian tells the cabbie to “get down!” and he jumps out of the cab himself before the ramming starts.
Christian, being a decent sort, checks to see the cabbie is okay (he seems to be) before looking at the Evil Cab. It’s empty. The driver is climbing some chain-link fence somewhere, having failed to kill anyone. Glad to see he takes his assignments seriously. I mean, if he had a gun, the movie would be over now, right?
Christian takes off to find this miscreant, but he can’t find him. Said miscreant, however, has cleverly climbed the fence to a pedestrian overpass—right over Christian! He jumps on Christian and starts beating on him. But Christian gives him a solid kick that throws Miscreant through a window! Christian runs off (to retrieve his artifact?), and Miscreant kicks down a door to resume the fight (he also tosses some guys back, showing he has no manners, thus, evil)
Well, Christian runs inside some shop, but Miscreant runs through the same shop’s window and starts beating on Christian pretty heavily, making me think this movie might be over in less than ten minutes. But Bullwinkle, that trick never works!
Sigh, Miscreant has Christian well and truly beat. He takes the artifact out of Christian’s jacket pocket, and then Christian wakes up, kicks the artifact out of Miscreant’s hand so he can catch it, and the fight resumes some more. Honestly, Christian’s not making a lot of headway here, his best strategy so far is running away or being thrown away from Miscreant (by Miscreant).
Well, Christian grabs a cop’s gun, and runs some more, and Miscreant jumps up onto another pedestrian bridge, and Christian shoots him right in the heart, which seems only to make him madder (and makes me give myself a gold star for calling him “Miscreant,” as he is obviously artificially enhanced. In fact, I’m reserving a gold star for guessing that he’s one of the orphans turned into a shadow-thing hybrid). Back in the movie, Miscreant yells with rage and jumps after Christian.
Christian fires two bullets, in rather pointless slow-motion and ultra-close-up (inside the barrel of a gun, that’s a new one). The first bullet shatters a block of ice, and the second bullet shoots through Miscreant’s shoulder. Again, the only effect is that it just seems to really piss him off. I’d say a new tactic was called for but I’m not an experienced Miscreant Fighter. Then again, I don’t think Christian is either.
Miscreant goes into the fish warehouse, and Christian shoots him through the leg, again this doesn’t seem to have much effect. They tussle some more (Christian getting the worst of it), until Christian manages a lucky kick which sends Miscreant to be impaled on a large hook (in a box of fish). Why this kills the guy when three gunshots didn’t even stagger him is a question for Uwe Boll fans to ponder throughout eternity.
Christian decides this is a good time to relax, so he takes some deep breaths, and we cut to the cityscape, and then inside a museum where there are a lot of pre-Columbian sculptures and things. Some chick is making notes about them all.
Two guys (a delivery guy and a security guy) wheel up a box, which they tell Chick is “For Dr. Hugens, From Dr. Hugens.” She thinks this is a mistake, that the box must be for “the big Alcani show.” Delivery guy asks who the Alcani were, and the security guy says “they were like this super-advanced culture until, like, ten thousand years ago, they just—“ He makes a whistling noise. “Disappeared,” he finishes, as Chick pries open the box.
Guy Who Didn’t Read the Credit Crawl says that the instructions say the box should only be opened by Dr. Hudgens, but Guard says that Chick is the assistant curator, so it’s totally okay. And I went on the internet, and Chick is actually Tara Reid, so she’s going to be Tara now, rather than Chick, because Chick is like totally offensive to chicks. Here’s me buying a new hat, a non-offensive-to-chicks hat. But I can’t wear hats.
So, anyway, Tara has opened the crate, and she and the Security Guy exposition about how Dr. Hudgens is away, so she’s cataloging everything in his absence, but he should be back for the grand opening, even though he might have finally found “the Arabus,” yet all this extra work “at least takes your mind off your boyfriend,” Security Guy jokes, but Tara doesn’t find that funny at all and Security Guy realizes he has overstepped something as she takes offense and wheels the crate to her office. See, I think the joke is that Tara Reid is really beautiful, but she has glasses and her hair pulled back severely, so she’s supposed to be frumpy or something. When she takes off her glasses and undoes her hair, it’ll be a total shock to Christian (so don’t tell him).
And we cut back to that ship we saw a long time ago, where Old Guy ordered Christian’s death (or maybe it was some CDs by Christian Death). Some long-haired guy says that a sunken ship is like a grave, “it should never be disturbed,” and Old Guy, who I am starting to think might be Dr. Hudgens, says he’s been searching for the “Arabus” for twenty years. And he thinks this small sub has got something, it looks like a coffin or something like that. It has that sort of shape.
He tells the long-haired guy that his “ill-informed superstitions” aren’t enough to stop Dr. Hugens (he is thus named by long-haired guy). Long-haired guy looks pretty taken aback by this insult. And the crate is brought on board.
But enough of that, we cut to an aerial view of Los Angeles (I think), then we see Christian walking along some deserted streets. He briefly senses some disturbances in the Force, but they’re not enough to bother him much or interest the movie, so he goes on. And he goes inside a museum, where there is a lot of stuff. And he listens to his voice mail messages. “John” asks Christian to give him a call, about the nightmares which have started again. John wants to know if it’s just him or what. Christian pulls a jeweler’s lens out of the crocodile head he has, and looks at it like, Whoa.
Back on the boat, Long Haired Guy (LHG from now on) wonders if the thing the sub brought up is gold, and Dr. Hudgens says that the Arkani were the first civilization to recognize that gold is really great for containing evil things, and the rest of the world caught on to the “really great” part without knowing why. He asks that the gold thing be loaded on the truck, okay?
Back with Christian, he’s doing some lab tests on some other artifacts. This is like watching a tennis match with all the back-and-forth.
Okay, done with that, LHG slugs Dr. Hudgens a good one, so he can take the gold box and whatever cool stuff might be inside. Dr. Hudgens warns them all that they are making a really big mistake, and LHG says the only mistake is letting this potential treasure go. He orders Hudgens thrown in the brig, and then he opens the crate.
Well, there’s a monster noise when they do, and Christian gets a big headache at the same time. Also at the same time, some guy lurches out of bed to obey some hidden call, someone who looks like Nun turns away from the kitchen to obey another such call, another guy putting video tapes back on the wall in a store suddenly stops and leaves, Christian’s artifact starts glowing, and finally, Dr. Hudgens reinforces his locked door as he hears gunfire and screams from the other side.
The orphans (I am going to assume) start marching toward the place to which they are being called. Even Tara feels a twinge in her neck (was she an orphan?).
Back on board the ship, Dr. Hudgens finally opens the door, and finds everyone else on board slaughtered in rather gruesome ways. Going to the crate, he finds it empty, but pulls on a hidden lever, and the bottom opens up. Inside is a small object, which he takes, and he runs down the gangplank onto the dock. I guess I missed the bit where they docked and stuff, I thought they were still at sea, silly me!
Well, anyway, Dr. Hudgens having procured his special talisman (I hope it’s not some damn Arkani Happy Meal Prize), and duly run off into the city, we cut to the Bureau 713 command center. A helpful screen title tells us this. Are you braced for more exposition? I am, because I’m thinking that’s what we’re going to get.
There are a lot of computers manned by a lot of people, and a big screen TV right in the center of the room. It looks like a typical Star Fleet Command headquarters without the aliens. One supervisor-type guy goes over to a couple of folks and asks whazzup, and the lady says “Electro-magnetics off the scale, I’ve never seen anything like it.” They recalibrate (of course) but they’re still getting the same readings. The TV shows the whole Earth in a kind of pale blue ghost-vision, and then we zoom into the west coast of America and several lines point come down screen and point to the shoreline. The supervisor-type, who looks like a clean-shaven blonde Christian (I think it’s Stephen Dorff), is very worried about all this.
Cut to Tara in some dark office, finishing up some more work on Arkani stuff. Her phone rings. It’ Dr. Hudgens who asks if the crate arrived, and she says it sure did and it sure is great with its markings and all that she’s trying to decode. Well, he takes umbrage at her opening the crate, even though she says she was only trying to catalogue it for him. He’s still pretty darn mad about it, and he says he’ll catalogue it his own damn self when he gets back and she should stop it right now.
Cut to Christian lying on the floor, and he starts to have rapid zooming flashbacks of his time at the orphanage. He (as a boy) and a woman (possibly Nun) walk into the bunk room and all the beds are filled. “The others are back,” says a boy’s voice, and we snap back to Christian, who wakes up when his cell phone rings.
He struggles to get up off the floor and to his phone. See, I’ve learned that if I’m planning on collapsing in a drunken stupor, I should leave my phone next to wherever I plan to collapse, so that way I can just pick it up when it rings and say, “Leave me alone.” Christian hasn’t learned this and thus goes through extra unneeded effort.
The call is from one Linda, who tells Christian that John is gone, that he left his clothes and car and just (so far as she knows) walked away. Christian says he’ll be right over.
And we fly over a city, a rather nice aerial shot actually. Christian voice-overs. “According to Arkani legend, when they opened the gate between our world and the world of darkness, a few people survived by joining forces with the creatures from the other side. They gained supernatural power, but lost their humanity.” We follow a car as it drives along the downtown street, then we cut to the car in some more suburban area. “That would explain the man who tried to kill me this morning. I have this bad feeling about what’s happened to John and the others.”
And we cut to see Linda and Christian walking out of her house. She’s worried that John’s dumped her, Christian (who’s known John since childhood at the orphanage) doesn’t think so, but he promises her that “we’ll figure this out. I’ll find John.” She calms down a bit.
And Christian drives across the Golden Gate Bridge (I guess). He calls someone, who is surprised as he (the someone) hasn’t heard from Christian since he (Christian) left 713. Christian explains about John’s situation, and asks if he (the someone) can get information about John. Someone says it’ll be risky but he’ll try, and he and Christian agree to meet at some old meeting place they used to meet at.
Christian, in the meantime, goes back to the orphanage. Lots of kids playing on the lawn. Nun comes out of the house, and she and Christian greet, she starts asking him if he’s sleeping okay, etc.
Christian mentions John’s disappearance, and that something happened to him as well.
“It’s happening again,” she says.
Christian says he needs to find the others, and Nun says she’ll get the files, and they go inside.
Cut to the Christian Apartment, where he’s apparently been calling the houses of other orphans like him, and finding out that they all just up and left too. He’s also browsing missing persons info online.
I have to wonder at this point…Nun knew way back when something about what was going on, with Dr. Hudgens and all. Has she told Christian any of this? And if she hasn’t, why hasn’t she?
Anyway, back to this. Christian mentions his recruitment into 713, and how he learned a lot and was good at his job, but he was frustrated that he wasn’t learning enough. Well, that was fascinating, time for lunch. Specifically, lunch with Someone from the phone call on the bridge. He (a rather tall, gaunt fellow) sits down reluctantly, and hands Christian a folder.
He says he “tracked down the three” Christian called about, while we see five photographs. Christian flips through the five (“Three, sire!”) photographs. Gaunt says that each of them just up and left. Christian says that’s all nineteen from the orphanage (the only thing they all had in common) and Gaunt wants to know what’s going on.
Christian doesn’t know, but by gum he’s going to find out. Well, not by gum. That’s just an expression. He thanks Gaunt and leaves.
And we cut to the museum at night. Is this the next night, or the same one? Tara is in her office wearing her same clothes. Man, talk about burning the midnight oil, and the noontime oil as well. Why, she’s just covered in oil, but you guys should calm your fantasies down because she still has her hair tied back and is wearing glasses, thus she isn’t supposed to be “sexy” yet. (I think this is “acting.”) So knock it off. Yes, especially you.
The security guy from earlier intrudes to note that “there’s someone here to see you” and there’s Christian! And Tara throws her arms around him. Dudes, calm down, this is a movie, she is paid to throw her arms around Christian. Yes, I’ll admit that even in glasses and severe hair she has the cuteness thing down cold. But it is still just a movie.
Anyway, she then belts him a good one, being mad about how she thought he was dead. He, rubbing his jaw, says he can explain everything, then looks at the security guy and adds “in private” so Security Guy makes with the escape.
When he leaves, Tara is pretty damn mad still with Christian, and asks why she should even listen to him. He gives her an artifact, and while she scans this artifact with hi-tech stuff, he talks about how he got it in South America. “It’s Arkani,” she pronounces, then berates him for not calling or writing or anything, and, you know, I’m seeing her point since he was able to call Gaunt and visit Nun and do all kinds of stuff without sending a simple text message “Hey, I survived the cannibals, let’s talk.” I mean, sure, women can be pretty demanding but she has a point here.
Christian asks about the artifact, and she says maybe she can translate it, but all the rings (there is a set) come from the ends of the earth (as it was known in the Arkani days) so it may not be easy. We see a shot of several rings, and they, um, kind of look like they might all fit together.
Power weirds start happening, and even Security Guy notes this on his monitors. Christian and Tara wonders if Security Guy is trying to create a romantic mood, but they dismiss this as a dumb joke. Security Guy himself wanders among the ancient sculptures and stuff because, uh, well, modern electrical problems might have their roots in ancient civilizations! Yes they might, stop shouting we’ll miss the action.
As Security Guy flashes his light here and there, saying “Hello?” we get to hear some tiger noises. He calls out to Tara and Christian, as if they could be making tiger noises, but (being innocent) they don’t admit to making spooky noises. Also, not being around where he is, they don’t answer him. So he goes on.
So do Tara and Christian, and as they search for spooky noise origins, they accuse each other of making each other’s lives interesting just by showing up. They could try to make the movie interesting too, you know.
Lights flash on and off as Security Guy continues to search the museum. I mean, personally, just being a normal person and seeing this stuff would make me call someone, even if only my great aunt Tilly. But he presses on. Good for him. And we cut to Christian and Tara. Briefly. Back to Security Guy, who continues to say “Hello?” as if human criminals would answer back. “Hi, Security Guy! We’re robbing the museum of stuff! Please don’t hurt us!”
Instead, some creature grabs his head and crushes it. Or kills him in some similar way, it’s all hidden by the darkness. It’s reminiscent of that movie, The Relic. At any rate, he seems pretty dead. Sorry, Security Guy, you were a pretty interesting character but you’ll notice we didn’t give you an easily memorable nickname. We weren’t fooled.
Tara and Christian find Security Guy’s body, but the music goes into a faster tempo so Christian says they should run faster. They do. They hide in some room, but a monster comes up anyway and smashes through the window, and Christian’s plan is a combination of flashlight and bullets. Which I would suspect is a pretty universal concept among kung-fu fighting paranormal investigators.
Anyway, the combination of these two items allows them to escape.
Some SWAT cops bust through the plate glass museum windows, in a scene not duplicated since whenever that movie “The Relic” was made. We see a brief shot of the Lady who was worried about electromagnetic stuff way back when. I guess she told them there was trouble at the museum, either that or they were just walking around and hate plate glass.
We see the SWAT folks wasting the pursuing Shadow Creature, which fades in and out of existence when it’s in the light, like we thought it might. It seems Tara and Christian might be okay, then. And a bunch more special police show up, no doubt 713 staff. Stephen Dorff shows up, and he knows who everyone is, and he’s taking over, and Tara and Christian are led out of the battle zone. We see more scenes that show that 713 have everything under control, but being non-stupid, we can’t help noting that we’re just a tad over thirty-five minutes in.
Tara is taken away to have her wounds seen to. Don’t remember her getting any wounds, but you know, I’m flexible and all. Dorf wonders why Christian is still here, and Christian goes on and on about how he was chased by an invisible monster, and apparently this is one of his hot buttons as he tries to rip Dorf a new one and, generally, try to act and stuff. Dorf tells Christian that he (Christian) is out of the loop now, and this is all Christian needs to know, but Christian is all sarcastic about this, like, Dorf is not the boss of him. Dorf tells him that is too bad, and Christian basically attacks Dorf, and gets the worst of it. He’s told he should keep walking and just leave, and before he does, Dorf mutters a personal remark about what he thinks of Christian.
But it turns out the tussle was more than just macho stuff. Christian has swiped Dorf’s pass card! This may mean things in a major way.
A helicopter flies overhead as the 713 folks continue to secure the museum. Christian and Tara meet up again, and agree to meet up later. She goes back to work, I guess, while Christian goes to the 713 morgue where (I think) Gaunt is slicing up Security Guy. No, I’m wrong, he’s actually slicing up Miscreant. It seems Miscreant was a 713 agent, all his files are way, way classified, but Gaunt finds something on his spinal cord—damn, it’s the Tingler! It’s a centipede like thing that is obviously a relative of the Tingler. But not being conversant in Vincent Price films, they don’t know what it is. Losers.
Gaunt finds another Tingler piece and puts it in his organ bowl, but he’s weirded out by the fact that he is still getting some kind of bio-whatever reading! He waves his magical pulse wand over Christian, and it seems the reading is coming from him. Both of them are a tad freaked by this. Does this mean Christian has a Tingler?
Who knows? We cut to Tara still working over the artifacts, and Dr. Hudgens shows up in the middle of this. He mentions how the Arkani are very mysterious and stuff, but he does it pretty menacingly. He asks how she is. She tells him she’s okay, he wonders why she’s still here (us too), but then he sees the One Ring on the scanner and is very curious to know how that got here.
Tara mentions how she was just going to analyze this, but he says he’ll do it and seems pretty insistent that only he do this. Trouble might be brewing, except some newly assigned security lady shows up and seems to put the kibosh on Dr. Hudgens’ nefariousness. For the moment. He says he’ll delay his analysis until the morning, and tells Tara that his expedition turned up nothing.
Elsewhere, Gaunt is running a scanner over Christian. He sees the Tingler inside Christian too, but it seems a lot less active than the one in Miscreant. Christian mentions how he was “electrocuted” when he was a kid, maybe that killed it. He wonders if Gaunt can remove it, but Gaunt thinks such an operation might kill Christian. Christian looks like he’s thinking about it a lot anyway.
And in some basement lab, Dr. Hudgens walks around while a caged monster (we don’t get much of a glimpse) breathes heavily. It watches as he takes his shirt off, then watches as he thrusts a giant pole into the cage. Whether this is to administer a sedative or extract a sample is not immediately clear, but it seems to be the latter as Dr. Hudgens injects some newly acquired sample into his own arm. Well, I say!
Cut back to Christian and Gaunt, Christian is telling us that the Tinglers are tied to the museum killer things, and Gaunt confirms this though he mentions that the creatures (the deadly ones) are seen almost exclusively in “rural areas.”
Christian asks if any weaknesses have been found in these Shadow Monsters. Gaunt mentions that they are “vulnerable to elements 76 to 79” which are “osmium, iridium, platinum and gold.” He turns to us. “Negates their ability to disrupt electricity.”
Christian doesn’t seem surprised, though he does seem skeptical. “If they disrupt electricity, how come my flashlight still worked?”
Well, Gaunt waves like he has an answer to this. “The closer the current is to its power source, the less the disruption. Now this,” he says, handing Christian a PDA, “has been calibrated to track their disruption field. It won’t help you see them, but it will let you know when they’re nearby.”
Damn, Gaunt is like a regular Q here. He goes on to note that the creatures live in the dark, sunlight “in large doses” is fatal to them, but only certain frequencies of light harm them. Like, let me guess, sunlight? Gaunt gives Christian some flashlights that have the right frequency lights right there. Then he gives Christian some cool bullets, specially made to be the worst ever for the creatures. These, he says, are “coated in photon accelerated luminescent resin. Cuts right through them.”
Christian admires the bullets. ”I’m gonna need a lot of these,” he says.
And we cut to outside, where Christian puts down a heavy suitcase, and uses the PDA to scan around. He narrates. Because it makes no sense, here is his narration.
”The man who attacked me yesterday was after the Arkani artifact I found in Chile. He was driven by the same force that controls the creatures. The Xenos at the museum were after the same thing. Can’t be a coincidence, John and the others have also gone missing.” Xenos, I should mention, are the name 713 has for the light-sensitive creatures.
”I’m close to the truth, I know it,” Christian says. “But whoever controls these things is going to send more after me.” He undresses while he talks. Then he collapses on a mattress somewhere and goes to sleep.
Elsewhere, Gaunt is still probing Miscreant’s files. Some underling shows up to tell him that Dorf wants to see him (Gaunt). Gaunt goes off to comply. He seems to look like this ain’t good for him.
But who cares, we cut to some blonde woman opening her heavily locked door and going inside, and HOLY CRAP it’s Tara with her hair let down. Yes it is! She goes to check her computer because, despite being sort of hot, she is still a kick-ass woman and thus is no man’s pawn. She does toss glances as Christian’s sleeping frame, though, now and then. So this is Christian’s apartment, then. Okay.
Elsewhere, Gaunt, now in nice suit and tie, meets with Dorf. Gaunt admits to meeting with Christian, and Dorf wants to know whose side Gaunt is on. There’s some sarcasm on both sides, but Dorf tells Gaunt he wants to know everything that he (Gaunt) knows about Christian. “And I need you to keep your mouth shut, you understand me?” Dorf walks off before Gaunt can even agree. Which he does. But how can he tell everything while keeping is mouth shut? Answer: mime, or charades.
And we get disco music, as Tara, now a loose-haired blonde of undeniable hotness, starts throwing off some (non-erotic) bits of clothing before settling down next to Christian and touching his scars Spanish rap music plays. No, I did not mistype that. And a female voice joins in saying that when “a child is born” this is pretty special.
And we get some backlit stuff with Tara and Christian. No, you don’t get to see anything. Did you think you would? That is an interesting assumption on your part.
And we cut to Gaunt’s house. His wife is cooking some kind of breakfast, and the doorbell rings, and she says she’ll get it. But she takes a long time, and this rouses Gaunt’s suspicions. (He hears dogs, and stuff in the kitchen frying too long).
He goes to see what is up, and finds that his wife has been killed, and then he is too—by Dr. Hudgens, who afterwards tosses a Tingler down Gaunt’s throat. This is done in extreme close up, and we track to Gaunt’s eye, the iris of which closes up. “Now, you are with us,” Dr. Hudgens says.
Well, that sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Good thing we cut to Christian, looking at some stuff and saying, “Seems all the pieces fit together.” He looks at Tara, who looks uncomfortably back at him. “Now I need your help to figure out why.”
Well, Tara, looking a bit either a) uncomfortable about this kind of talk or b) unused to acting, talks about some mumbo jumbo stuff. She says how the Arkani used star charts to plot Earth coordinates. And man, she puts her hair back up in a severe pin and sounds like Peppermint Patty when she talks. If she calls Christian “Chuck” I may expire on the spot.
She talks about if they can decipher the star charts, they may be able to find significant things. She finds something which indicates that stuff might happen “right in our area” as Christian says. And wouldn’t you know it, the lights start flickering! That can’t mean good things for anyone who isn’t evil. Christian gives her a gun and tells her “Stay there” and she loses her glasses (because they aren’t sexy). Christian goes off through the various dimly lit depths of the museum, and he meets John. You may recall John as Christian’s childhood friend who is now possessed, in which case, good memory. He attacks Christian.
Christian tries reasoning, but this doesn’t work since John grabs Christian by the throat and starts squeezing. And then, Tara rushes out and shoots some late arriving zombies, as well as John. John releases Christian’s neck. She shoots some more zombies, and he kung-fu’s a few others. And the two of them run away. Just as another shadow creature materializes in this mayhem and runs off to kill good, decent people.
As we cut back to Christian an Tara running away, a quick shot shows the deadly lizard-like demon attacking Christian and Tara…only too, uh, clumsily to do any good (bad). He tumbles over some rails and puts paid to himself. The hell?
Oh, he was just tricking us all. He is going to work seriously on being a menace now. He pushes through a wall and menaces Christian and Tara, before the former pulls a machine gun out of an attache case and wastes the lizard-thing with the extra special bullets mentioned previously (unless those have no meaning in which case, sorry, never mind.). The lizard-dog thing disintegrates into smoke when it dies.
The two of them go to leave, but not before Christian regrets that he has killed John, which he figures was bad of him to do despite the fact that John was an uncontrollable zombie bent on his destruction. Well, he did tell Linda he would find John, he didn’t say what shape he might be in. Tara asks what the hell, and Christian pushes her off.
She asks how many more, and he admits “there were twenty of us.” And a rockin’ tune starts up as the two of them start wasting more evil shadow creatures. It’s all done with flashes of light in total darkness, so it had a certain visual appeal.
Elsewhere, we see some 713 fighters having a similar gun-versus-claw battle, but not being stars, these humans suffer some casualties. It’s shot in a kind of jerked-out flash-cut style which is intended to give the impression of the heat of battle, but mostly just looks confusing. The way it’s presented, it just looks like everyone here is firing off randomly into the darkness and for all I know, that is exactly the strategy they’re employing. And we get an artful slow motion of shot of a spent casing bouncing off the floor, showing us that Uwe Boll has seen Resident Evil.
Finally, some 713 guys call to central control about all the evil alien bodies they’ve done kilt, and who’ve done kilt some of them as well. They poke about through the rubble. And Dorf shows up again. Man, he really gets around. Anyway, he sees Christian and orders him to drop his weapon, as he (Christian) is infected and needs to be seen to.
Christian tells him that he (Dorf) should trust his instincts, apparently this is rule number one in 713. Dorf isn’t buying this, though, but before he can do anything a bunch of zombies show up and we’ve got more gun battles, and Christian and Tara slip away in the ensuing melee. Actually, it turns out Christian is still there, and he shoots a zombie that’s just about to attack Dorf. And the rest of the zombies are pretty quickly dispatched, though not without a couple of human casualties too.
And some other 713 folks have gone up to “the upper level” and are looking around. They get a call that there are four “readings” up there with them, so be prepared for a possible ambush. But they go in anyway, and get killed by zombies, who are in turn killed, and more zombie mayhem (cough) happens. And finally they’re told by central control that there are no more “heat signatures” other than themselves, so they’re clear.
Central control calls them and tells them they’re picking up readings in an abandoned gold mine, which is where the beginning credit crawl already told us Dr. Hudgens was up to no good. Christian wants to know what’s going on, and Dorf, who is now nice to Christian, tells him that this is just the beginning and there is more mayhem (cough) to come. He also mentions that Hudgens and Fisher (maybe that’s Gaunt, I don’t recall) are missing. He says he’ll brief both Christian and Tara on the way to the gold mine. And he asks Christian if he can have his ID card back (this last bit is, like, comedy, only not funny).
Cut to the outside of (I think) the museum, where 713 guards are directing trucks and stuff. Have I mentioned the body armor? The 713 troops look like they’ve just stepped off the set of Starship Troopers which, except for the fact that this film was made seven years later, they might have just done. And everyone is unloading equipment all around here.
And we cut to a helicopter flying through the night sky. And over this footage we hear Christian and Dorf talk about how they’re going to an abandoned gold mine, and how Christian grew up near there, and how it was closed when six miners died, and how 713 investigated this accident, but there was no paranormal activity then, but the guys investigating were Dr. Hudgens and someone whose name I didn’t catch (James Pinkerton it sounded like, no idea who he is).
The helicopter lands…next to a couple of very neatly arranged piles of tires. Okay, good then. And some soldiers are already there, walking around, and central control tells Dorf that the readings are “off the scale” and she seems pretty pleased about this, even though it means, you know, lots of deadly creatures and maybe zombies. I suppose she’s safe where she is, though.
Dorf is railing about how they need more troops, and he says they can finally get rid of all the creatures “once and for all.” Even though the music is all easing into triumphal, we’ve got…hang on. Nearly forty minutes to go.
Dorf takes some underling to task for not having the generator up and going. And Christian feels some tremor in the Force, and goes off toward some staging area which is remarkably clear of anyone. Dorf and some others follow him, and we see the entrance to the mine. To be fair, it’s a pretty impressive view, looking pretty abandoned and overgrown, and kind of back-lit with this sepia-colored light.
Christian tells Dorf that here is where they need to go in. He says that “they” (I assume he means the possessed people) are “all coming here for a reason” and thinks they should find out this reason. So, he, Dorf and a few others (maybe Tara too, I couldn’t tell) all go into the corridor, and we get this…kind of long and pointless zoom out showing all the 713 troops all busily doing stuff. Yep, they’re sure busy. Idle hands, and all that I suppose. Cut. Cut!
And they’re doing more stuff, and driving around and setting up robot weapons and driving tanks. Man, what is this footage doing here? Generator guy still hasn’t gotten the generator to power up. They call the generator “genny” in case anyone ever asks you for some “fun facts” about this movie.
Then, they cut to the mine corridor. Wow, that was two and a half minutes of soldier footage! Anyway, in the mine with Christian and Dorf.
But enough of that! Back up top with the troops, someone has a misfire. But it was off in the distance and no one seems too concerned, other than it shouldn’t happen again. Okay, are we all clear on that?
NOW we’re in the tunnel. It’s all mine-like, with rock walls and stuff, such as you’d expect to find in a mine. And of course, there are limestone formations and dripping water everyone. And it turns out Tara did go with them. I guess you’d want an archeologist along when hunting monsters. They come to a dead end, with an enormous grid cutting off the tunnel. Dorf decides they should look for a way around, and up top (I knew you’d be anxious) they finally get the generator going. Hoo-hah, the drinks are on me.
Down below, they find another dead end. Dorf wonders about doubling back, but Christian thinks none of the tunnels are right, “there’s gotta be something else here.” He pokes his flashlight around, and sees some Arkani language in a ring around the cave roof. Someone else finds some more, and one guard “finds” something on the floor (it looks like he just started randomly digging) and he accidentally opens a trap door beneath him. He falls quite some distance and ends up impaled at the end. Question 1: who builds a trap-door that can only be triggered by standing on it? Answer 1: Stupid people. Question 2: Isn’t it lucky that Dorf just happened to pick this corridor? Answer 2: why, gosh yes it sure is!
Dorf notes that they have to go down this hole, and we cut back up to the soldiers (I was missing them too). They note that dawn is four hours away.
Elsewhere, in a pretty cool shot, we start with an extreme close-up of Dr. Hudgens face, and we rapidly zoom away while we see that he’s in a forest of some kind and that he has unleashed several of the dog-lizard things. Lots of them. In fact, whole bunches of them, and we get to watch them romp for quite some time. If they didn’t roar with such ferocity, I’d think they were playing like big dogs.
The soldiers note that they’re about to have company, and central control AGAIN says that the readings are “off the scale.” How many scales do they have to go off of?
Now we come to a pretty stupid part. I mean, even for this movie. We’d seen lots and lots of footage of the soldiers doing their stuff and we were told “the perimeter is secure.” So what happens? Gaunt (who is named Fisher) shows up, right next to the generator guy and pulls the pin out of a grenade. Both of them and the generator are destroyed.
My understanding of the phrase “the perimeter is secure” means that no one should be able to sneak up like that. Sheesh.
So, the generator was to generate light (harmful to the monsters) and now the troops have no lights, but they still have to get ready to fight the monsters. The guy in charge orders his men not to engage until the monsters have crossed “the second perimeter.” This is also stupid. These are monsters, they just run and attack like animals, they’re not enemy troops who have a strategy and can alter tactics. You’d want to kill these things as soon as you were able, not wait until they were closer to you.
Oh well, Dorf gets a call that the battle is about to be fought and he notes that he and his folks are okay where they are. (There’s a ladder set into the wall so they can climb down.)
Back up with the troops, the helicopters take off. Now, there’s an idea—even though the generator is gone, the helicopters have powerful lights they can use on the creatures (who don’t like light, remember). Is this what they’re going to do?
Kind of looked like that, briefly anyway. Well, the battle starts up, and the soldiers make pretty good progress. Down below, Tara decides she’s not getting any attention so she slips on the ladder and Christian grabs her. Yes, that was supposition on my part but honestly, what a time for a near-ladder-slip.
Turns out there’s a bigger problem, as the roof of the cave over the hole is actually one big plug and it starts coming down. Everyone gets out of the way, but one of the troops broke her leg or something. This seems to be a thing just for running time.
Up top, the battle is raging. Down below, Christian notes that the whole cave they’re in seems to be made out of human skulls. “I don’t think we’re supposed to be here,” he says. Tara finds some Arkani symbols, she says it’s a warning, “Once you make it down here alive, you’re already dead.” “That’s comforting,” Christian says, using the wrong word for “stupid.” Dorf gets a call on his radio, but the interference is pretty bad. It’s pretty bad at central control, too.
Up top, the battle is raging. The helicopters are shooting monsters too, and one monster jumps on the roof of the building (good thing that perimeter is secure) and then jumps onto a helicopter, making it crash. The guy in charge calls for everyone to fall back.
Down below, some kind of sand-snake thing (might be a grown up Tingler) moves toward the wounded soldier and, while everyone stares at it, bites her right on the wound. She doesn’t like this at all. More appear and they seem vulnerable to guns, so that seems okay. As for the soldier, apparently, the monster’s bite killed her.
Up top, things are quiet as apparently all but a couple of the soldiers are dead. Man, that was fast. Before, things were starting to tilt toward the creatures, but this is ridiculous. One soldier creeps around and is killed by a creature. Another soldier walks around and looks at all the bodies. If the creatures did win, it doesn’t look like there are many still around to celebrate. Anyway, seeing some dead trooper that she knows (the commander, maybe?) she goes off somewhere, and we cut back down below. The dead trooper is still dead. Up top, the trooper finds the radio guy and tells him everyone else is dead. He takes out his gun and tells her to get to higher ground.
Okay, I don’t quite get this. The creatures attacked by just attacking, they didn’t sneak around. They just rushed at the soldiers until, by sheer force of numbers, they overwhelmed them. So why aren’t they running all around now, killing these two? Why sneak around and pick them off when you don’t have to anymore? Answer probably has something to do with a word that starts with “s” and ends with “tupid.” Anyway, he tells her to go, he’s going to stay. Why? Dunno. She tells him to watch his back and she leaves.
Down below, they’ve found some steps and a doorway. “Something tells me we’re not the first ones down here,” Christian says. Oh, really? What tipped you off, the skulls everywhere or the Arkani writing? Dorf tells his remaining trooper to blow up the wall, which of course is our cue to go topside again.
The female trooper is going upstairs in the old mine building. Well, I guess that is higher ground. If she gets killed right away, I’m really going to be mad at this movie. Actually, she continues going up the world’s longest staircase, while outside radio guy wastes a monster. She continues going up, while down below the wall is blown up. She keeps walking, and someone says “Fiestra!” (near as I can tell). Some other trooper person pokes his head through a hole in a wall somewhere (not down below). What the hell is going on, and is it going to end up being relevant? I don’t have much hope for the latter….
Down below, Dorf, Christian, Tara and Random Trooper go through the wall…past the hanging Spanish moss, yes, don’t dwell on that okay?
I think we cut back up top (wouldn’t want any continuous action, would we). Yes, we do, and now radio guy is in the building. Maybe he was the guy who poked his head earlier. Whatever. He sees a pair of creatures running along outside, silhouetted against windows. Again, it looks like big dogs playing. Labradors from Hell.
He walks around a bit, hears various noises, and sees a pair of legs squirming near some rubble. He walks closer and sees a trooper with a literally splitting headache. How she can be alive is beyond me, but maybe it’s a Tingler making her twitch. And I’m not sure if this is the gal who went upstairs. It’s hard to tell them apart when they take their hats off. [Ed’s note from the future. Since we never see the gal who went upstairs again, I guess this was her.] Anyway, having seen enough he turns to leave, but gets killed by a pair of monsters.
So is there anyone left alive up top? Because if there isn’t, it means Uwe is going to have to find something else to cut to in order to break up the action. Maybe he can cut to central control. Just trying to be helpful here.
Down below, they find what looks like an abandoned science lab with desks and tables and things. And a lot of small beds (with pillows). Here is where Dr. Hudgens performed his experiments on orphans. You know what? I knew that, because the friggin credit crawl told me that. Dorf sees something under one of the beds and calls Christian over.
On each of the beds for some reason, there are anatomical drawings of spinal columns and what look like instructions for putting Tinglers on them. One of the beds’ has Christian’s name tag on it. He has a brief flashback of surgery and himself in the power block from the beginning of the movie. He then says that the 713 agency was the agency that implanted the Tinglers. They’ve been evil the whole time! So why did they fire Dr. Hudgens? Uh, because, hm.
”This isn’t happening,” Dorf says, “this doesn’t make any sense.” Oh brother yes. Why would 713 then kill off its own troops? “We’ve been trying to stop something that they created the whole time,” Dorf says, getting angry. “My guys are dying out there for nothing!” Oh I don’t know, they sure padded the running time. Dorf throws a table down and swears.
Random Trooper throws a big switch, and the power seems to come alive and a door opens. How’d he know that wasn’t the self-destruct switch? You know Dr. Hudgens has one of those somewhere. Anyway, this door has a wall with several mirrors on it, and some Arkani writing. Tara goes in to look, and Christian takes out the artifact he’s been carrying the whole time and fits it into the wall. “It’s a key,” Tara says.
”This could be our only way out of here,” Dorf offers.
“The answers I’ve been looking for my whole life could be on the other side of this thing,” he says.
”Some doors are meant to stay shut,” Tara counters. Can we have someone else say some disjointed things please?
Dorf asks Christian what he wants to do. “I say,” he says, removing the artifact, “we trust the Arkani.”
Just then, Dr. Hudgens shows up and shoots Random Trooper. He tells the others to move away from the door and to drop their guns. He then asks Christian if this place brings back memories. “You were my last failure,” he says, “if you hadn’t escaped 713 would never have shut down my experiments.”
Uh, I thought he went to the gold mine after his experiments were shut down, so how could Christian remember this place? Oh, I see—never mind. [Whispers] Stupid.
Dr. Hudgens asks for the artifact, and Tara stretches the running time for quite a while until Christian says she should give it to him, as “there’s been enough killing today.” Ah, so Dr. Hudgens isn’t going to kill them when he gets what he wants? Yeah, sure. Anyway, she puts the artifact on a table.
Dr. Hudgens takes out the Cracker Jack prize he got on the boat several hundred hours ago (as the film goes) and puts it in the artifact, and it glows golden. Christian shouts at him not to open the door, but he puts the key in anyway, just as Dorf throws a knife which—damn good aim—impales the bad doctor right through the heart. The door opens anyway, and the three of them go inside.
It’s a kind of dark cavern, which has an abyss in it and some monster noises. And we pull back a long way to see this is like a really big cavern. Like it’s some kind of shadow realm or something, you know. And lots of monsters all start waking up and looking like Oh cool the door is open, let’s go play and get some treats and then run around barking!
We watch for rather a long time as monsters awaken and start to amass. Cut. Cut! Christian suggests they go back inside the regular world, and they do, but not before Dorf takes something out of a rucksack or something. Christian, in the meantime, is trying the door switch but it doesn’t work any more. Oh, wait, it does. The mirror door to the shadow realm is still open, but the regular doors (blast doors I guess) are closed. Will this hold the creatures? Hah, we have over twelve minutes to go, even a whole bunch of credits can’t take that long.
Christian, Tara and Dorf all run back through the mine, back to where the hole entrance is. But first, of course, we cut away topside, to see lots of dead soldiers and hear central control calling to see if anyone is there. We also cut to central control—wow, can I call em or what—and they hear some banging noises on the roof of wherever they are. Huh?
Back underground, our surviving trio is still running. They find another ladder and think taking it is a good idea. Dorf tries to detonate his rucksack but the signal won’t go through, so he has to get closer so he can sacrifice himself heroically. Hey, I’m just saying. He runs back while the other two climb up. And Dorf runs back to the lab and opens the blast doors. Close the blast doors, close the blast doors! He grabs a gun and pokes it into the room. He then grabs his rucksack and leaves the shadow realm, firing the whole time. He arms the bomb, throws the rucksack back into the shadow realm and it goes off (he tries running away but I doubt this will work for him).
Christian, meanwhile, shoots the lock off a storm cellar (in slow motion) and he and Tara escape into the world of sunshine. Man, that was a pretty short four hours—it looks to be around mid-morning. Maybe Dr. Hudgens ranted for a long time, and Uwe Boll decided to actually cut something. Maybe.
The fire from the blast flows through the mine and bursts up through the storm cellar door. What the Hell kind of plan was this? Unless it sealed the door to the shadow realm, all this has done is make it easier for the creatures to escape! Uwe Boll, you have not thought this through. See me after class young man.
Anyway, the music is kind of “it’s over, and we’re sad about Dorf being noble yet dead.” Tara and Christian look at the storm cellar entryway. And it looks like this is right next to the orphanage. “They were right under us the whole time,” Christian says. “I don’t believe it.” Me neither if you’re keeping track.
They go inside, and he calls out for Nun. They don’t find her for a while. Finally they do, and she’s flat on her back (dead I guess) among the orphanage beds. Where are the other kids? Who knows, they’re not convenient to be here now, says Uwe. Christian reaches down and closes her eyes, then sits next to her all sad, and then we cut to a city. There’s a newspaper blowing around, an abandoned bicycle, and awwww a cute tuxedo cat.
We get the subtitle, “8:45 AM. City Evacuated.” And we see lots of shots that show us that this is, indeed, the case. Pretty darn evacuated, but also pretty orderly and free of signs of panic and things. There’s one car in the middle of the road with a door open. And one other down a side street. The rest are all nicely parked and stuff. We see the empty command center.
But enough of that, we have more abandoned city shots to look at, and shots of Christian and Tara seeing this emptiness. Okay. Cut. Cut!
”The gate was closed again,” Christian narrates, “but like the Arkani discovered, there’s a price to pay for bringing darkness into the light.” He and Tara walk away from the camera. “The Arkani people were wiped off the face of the Earth. And now, it looks like it’s happening all over again.” We hear bunches of monster noises as we fly over the city, and then a camera rushes right at Christian and Tara, and they turn just in time to see it (like the ending of The Evil Dead). Is it fair to point out that bright sunlight, like what they’re walking around in, was fatal to the shadow creatures?
I suppose no one really cares to answer, since we cut to black and our ending credits.
And a ridiculously overwrought metal anthem. Sounds like Spinal Tap on a bad night, really. Actually it sounds like Queen and Abba have teamed up with an industrial Kiss cover band.
So. Huh. Sheesh, that was just flat out stupid. I will have to give it that it wasn’t boring, even the obvious padding wasn’t tedious. And the monsters were kind of cool, in a sort of sub-Alien way.
The music was good, especially the bits that played over the DVD menus. The acting was okay, nothing more. Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff both did the hard-boiled thing, the latter probably a bit more successfully. Christian just seemed kind of keeping his distance from everything, like, Man, I am in a Uwe Boll movie, how did that happen? And Tara Reid was “I have glasses and my hair is up, so I am acting” and that really seemed the extent of her powers. The guy playing Hudgens was trying to be like Christopher Lee. He was okay. Nun didn’t act very well. Gaunt was interesting to look at, like a cheaper version of James Cromwell.
The problem is that this film seemed to be made up of a series of set pieces, many of which could have been eliminated without damaging the narrative. I know you can say that about a lot of films, that they’re all made up of moments, but in those cases the moments are part of a cohesive whole. Take the “USS Indianapolis” scene from Jaws. Yes, you could remove that because it’s not relevant to fighting giant sharks. But you’d damage the film when you did that. Because it is relevant to the story at hand, in how it fleshes out the characters on screen and shows how they ended up in this boat together.
Here, gosh, you could eliminate Miscreant, you could eliminate Zombie John (he gets killed and there’s no follow up with his wife). Even the orphans only show up as a secondary menace (as zombies). The whole pitched battle above the mine? It was intense and exciting and stuff, but what difference did it make? None. Of course, by the time you pared everything down, you’d end up with a fifteen minute movie, and that wouldn’t do. The trick is to make those scenes relevant to the plot, to the overall thrust of the narrative.
Hell, even the ending, where Dorf sacrifices himself, does nothing; apparently the world ends anyway. And since the world ends anyway, it makes the whole rest of the movie irrelevant!
I think the problem here is that there are a lot of elements, which means the framework has to have a degree of complexity to accommodate them. I think this confuses Uwe Boll and he doesn’t know what to do, which is why we have the endless ping-pong going from Christian to Boat, from Soldiers to Mineshaft, etc etc like we’re some kind of viewer who can’t stand to have too much uninterrupted narrative. Like it makes us crazy!
This wasn’t a problem with House of the Dead, which had a pretty simple storyline: zombies attack. With Alone in the Dark, it's like he feels he has to keep all these elements around at the same time, rather than just dealing with them in turn and moving to the next.
(Caveat: I have no idea how many of the elements of Alone in the Dark (the film) were integral to the video game it’s based on, and thus had to be put here. Not that fidelity to the source is ever high on anyone’s list, but still as an excuse it never fails.)
Is it possible that Uwe Boll could make good movies? Well, sure. He definitely seems to have a way with a camera. What he needs is a good script and a producer who will sit on him and say, “Film the script, Uwe, don’t junk it up with stupidity,” and “No, that doesn’t work, do it right,” and “Stop that!”
Until that happens, he’s just going to be a sort of boogie-man to B-Movie fans. You eat all your vegetables, or Uwe Boll will direct the adaptation of your favorite video game!