Prayer Focus
Movie Review

ALONE IN THE DARK

MPAA Rating: R for violence and language

Reviewed by: Willie R. Mangum Jr.
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Horror, Action, Suspense, Supernatural, Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 36 min.
Year of Release:
2005
Featuring: Christian Slater, Tara Reid, Stephen Dorff, Mark Acheson, Daniel Cudmore
Director: Uwe Boll
Producer: Shawn Williamson, Uwe Boll, Don Murphy, Rick Benattar, Wolfgang Herold
Distributor: Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lions Gate Films

Demons

Satan

Devil

Is Satan a real person that influences our world today? Is he affecting you? Answer

Demon possession and influence - Can Christians be demon possessed? In what ways can Satan and his demons influence believers? Answer

“Evil awakens.”

Evil wakens… and initiates the most incredible heist in the annals of cinematic history, an excruciatingly mind-numbing pilfering of 96 minutes of my life! Make no mistake; this is the most frightening aspect of “Alone in the Dark.”

The total monetary damage was minimal and the cumulative effects were eased by the fact that only 9 or so other souls mustered the courage to enter the theatre. That makes 960 minutes for which the victims can give no rational account. 10 lives forever altered. “How?” you may ask. In those precious 96 minutes one of us could have cured a disease or discovered a new solar system or a new element for the periodic table or at least delivered a few pizzas at $7.50 an hour plus tips, rather than shelling it out for this flick! I can only hope that through some sort of paranormal amnesia, we will be able to put those 96 minutes out of mind, forever.

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to my friend, Jarod, for dragging him into the trauma of it all. Jarod, I sincerely apologize and hope that I may someday figure out a way to redeem those 96 minutes for you. We were, indeed, sitting at “a gateway to hell.”

Uwe Boll, the producer/director, is making a name for himself among the ranks of those who appreciate a good (I realize this is an oxymoronic use of the word “good”), campy, bloody, gory, special effects filled horror movie. I am not among the few, the proud and the weird that fill those ranks, but that should have given me a clue that this film could not possibly deliver what I was expecting. Why, then, would I choose to review this film? The answer begins with the last sentence of the “Producer’s Synopsis” above.

I don’t know what the producer’s had in mind when they penned that synopsis, but the version of “Alone in the Dark” that I sat through is not that movie. It started with a very lengthy, scrolling prologue (ala “Star Wars”) accompanied by a word for word voice-over reading of the text as it scrolled up the screen. Not a good beginning.

Somewhere within the first 10 minutes, we discover that the lead character, Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), a former investigator with Bureau 713, is investigating the mysterious death of his friend. Somehow, I missed that critical information. Perhaps it was included in the drone of the prologue that I inadvertently tuned out.

I don’t recall any of the clues that supposedly led Carnby to discover, or rediscover, the monsters from his past, but they came, and they commenced a murderous rampage among the men and women of Bureau 713. The goal of the monsters is unclear, but one must believe, according to the “Producer’s Synopsis” that they are bent on world conquest.

The bulk of the movie is made up of “action scenes” chronicling the carnage of men and monsters as they wreak havoc on each other. Apparently, the monsters are the demons that the ancient, yet advanced, civilization of the Abskani once worshipped. They also have something to do with perverse experimentation conducted 22 years ago by Professor Hudgens.

As I read the “Producer’s Synopsis” I was drawn to what this movie could have been. As you read the “synopsis” did you catch the subtle religious and psychological underpinnings?

This from the synopsis: “face to face with bizarre horrors that prove both psychologically disturbing and lethal.” Oh, what a good writer and filmmaker could have done! The physical monsters Carnby faced are no more psychologically disturbing than had he been accosted by a bear or lion. What I saw was nothing more, from a creative perspective, than a duplication of this kind of physical attack substituting the animal with the tired cliché of monster.

But what if the horrors Carnby faced were the very real demonic forces that will manipulate your thoughts and perceptions; demons that can take partial memory of a disturbing past and, through emotional manipulations, cause trauma in the present. Demons that may very well manifest themselves as very real and perhaps even very friendly personal entities (does “angel of light” ring a bell here?).

Demonic manifestations with a broad ranging arsenal of psychological and emotional weaponry provide the creative canvass to explore a man who is “overpowered by the forces of darkness as they eat away at his very sanity.” Imagine this concept in the hands of a writer/director with a deep knowledge and understanding of human nature and the real, spiritual purpose of temptation and demonic assault; a writer who could personify the demonic with the literary insight of C.S. Lewis in his book The Screwtape Letters. Attacks from personal beings with one goal, the destruction of humanity, those created in the image of the Creator.

Only a thoroughly Biblical understanding of human nature, original sin, spiritual warfare, the realm of the demonic and the goal of our enemy, Satan, could have resulted in what I had envisioned. My hope was that the filmmakers would touch on these issues, no matter how inadequately, as a springboard to discussion. [Is Satan a real person that influences our world today? Is he affecting you? Answer]

There were allusions to what I had in mind. In an early scene on a plane, Carnby is startled awake by a nightmare from his past. “Did you have a nightmare?” a boy asks. The boy tells Carnby that there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark. Carnby replies: “Being afraid of the dark’s what keeps most of us alive.” There is something out there. There is something to fear. And there is One Who casts out all fear.

In a later scene Carnby says: “I’m here to protect you from the things you don’t believe.” This, in a vague and shallow way, gets at the fact that there are deeper realities that most of us overlook, or ignore, in this life. The Bible reveals that in our sinfulness we suppress the truth. The end result, most of us, in our suppression of truth, of the one True God, suppress the reality of all things spiritual and supernatural.

Uwe Boll is suppressing the truth and, therefore, does not have the ability (nor does he have the interest) to explore the deeper realities of the spiritual realm.

The only thing noteworthy is Uwe Boll’s uncanny ability to imitate the very best technical aspects of some very good films. This movie was, in the words of my friend Jarod, “made from parts of so many movies.” Two examples are a fight scene courtesy of “Bourne Supremacy” and demon monsters courtesy of “Alien.”

There are movies that warrant an R-rating because of contextual violence (“Braveheart” and “The Patriot” are prime examples), but this film is just plain violent. There are 4 impaling, 1 crushed body, 1 split skull, one appendage and upper torso torn from the body and a plethora of demon monsters and men killed in battle. There is also a gratuitous sex scene between Carnby and Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid). Slater is nude from the waist up and Reid’s undergarments remain on. The scene is shot partially under bed covers and in shadowed lighting. There are also 10 occurrences of the vilest profanity and 6 occurrences of our Lord’s name in connection with profane words.

I cannot, with clear conscience, no matter how many warnings and cautions, recommend that any rational human being spend the time and money to see this movie. And I definitely caution all parents to keep young children away. Parents, if for some strange reason your teen is planning a trip to the multiplex to see “Alone in the Dark,” please ask them why. Eight of the people at the theatre I attended were teens. I don’t know what brought them out, but we all left having gained nothing eternal for the effort.

Heed Edward Carnby’s warning: “There’s a price to pay for bringing darkness into the light.”

Note to Slater’s agent: No more Uwe Boll projects, please!

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

Year of Release—2005 / Open: January 28, 2005 (USA nationwide)

Viewer Comments
Negative—I spent an hour and a half of my life in the theater watching “Alone in the Dark” that I will never get back. It was full of the typical unimaginative elements that make movies not only bad from an artistic point of view, but from a Christian point of view as well. First of all, let’s talk about the artistic value, or lack of: Star Wars did the whole “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” scrolling words thing, and while it was sort of cheesy, it has become delightfully nostalgic! Any other film that tries to imitate that device is just plain lazy. And even though they pretty much told us all the exposition in the beginning (thus making me wonder why I was still sitting there when I already knew the whole story!), they still failed to explain many key elements.

But I really don’t care, because I didn’t care about any of the characters or what happened to them, or what motivated them to do anything. The acting and writing were both horrible (Come on, Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff… I haven’t seen someone sink this low since Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughy in “Reign of Fire”!).

Now let’s expand this review to include a Christian worldview. Way too many F-bombs and incidents of God’s name taken in vain for my liking or my comfort. The name of Jesus Christ is very precious to me, and it literally hurts my ears to hear it said any other way than in reference to my Lord and Savior. What was with the sex scene? Did it serve to advance the plot? In the words of my friend, it was almost like Tara Reid said, “Like, I saw ‘Bed of Roses’ when I was little, and like, I want to do a bed scene with Christian Slater because he’s like, really hot!” There was no purpose except to show skin and maybe entertain the teenage boys for a little bit who were most certainly not being entertained by any other plot element. There was no suspense, and it relied way too much on special effects to hide the fact that this was a truly heinous film!! Save your money—this movie was definitely NOT worth it!
My Ratings: Very Offensive/1
—Leanne, age 28
Negative—How many different ways can one describe how bad something is? Well, take any words or phrases that come to mind and send them directly to this lame film. In all fairness, I should note that I only watched the first 40 minutes of this movie, therefore I did not see the conclusion. However, I do not believe the need to see the rest is necessary to judge the caliber of this film. The film’s main problem is not the amateur script, the direction, the acting, the special effects (although negative remarks could be made about all), but in its complete power to numb the mind from boredom. There is just nothing interesting about the film. Sure you have a dangerous artifact accompanied by the whole “end of the world” cliche, but the movie simply follows formulaic plot device after the other. The film lacks any originality and is completely unbelievable even after the obligatory “suspension of belief” for horror films is applied.

Ultimately, you just don’t care for any of the characters because they are one-dimensional and present simply to be axed. Horror films usually work if they scare and this one tries so desperately hard, but fails every time. Clearly this was one of those lame Hollywood attempts to release something so botched it could not be fixed just to see if they could milk the audience for some money; it’s insulting. Christian or not, do not see this movie. It is a waste of your life and hard earned money. From what I saw, families will not appreciate the moderate use of foul language, gory violence and brief sexual encounter. But the main reason to stay away is the utter banality of this film.
My Ratings: Average/1
—Charles, age 20
Negative—I believe Uwe Boll’s “Alone in the Dark” has just taken over sole possession of the film industry’s basement dweller award for being the worst science fiction movie of all time. Trust me, after giving this flick a spin in your DVD player you’ll easily enjoy “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” At least Ed Wood’s B-Movie bomb made you laugh. “Alone in the Dark” is a “yawner” and guaranteed to only make you fall asleep. The plot, special effects and editing is cheesy. The acting is horrible and the director’s masterful command is out to lunch. …This movie will only remind viewers of better science fiction movies that got it right.
I rented the extended version of this film. What that really means is anyone watching this DVD will be wasting an extended portion of their already limited physical lifespan. So you’ve been warned. There is one scene that proves my point about the poor editing. The scene in question takes place near the end of the movie when the main characters are underground fighting the poisonous snake-like creatures. One of these slinky critters bites a female soldier and she quickly dies; or does she? Her comrades pronounce her dead. However, before the scene is over you clearly see the woman starting to get up as her friends scurry off the set. Talk about sloppy editing! At first I thought she turned into a zombie, but you never see her again. Too bad, maybe female gun totting zombies could have saved this mindless movie. You never know. Here’s an idea. Maybe they’ll bring her back as a zombie in “Alone in the Dark II”. Now that’s a scary thought!
My Ratings: Offensive / 1
—Albert Anthony Buonanno III, age 49
Negative—…if I can keep 1 person from seeing it than this was worth doing. Wow, what a bad movie. Seriously, if you need to kill an hour and a half, and this is on HBO, than give it a look, but don’t expect much.…
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
—Cody Nance, age 16
Movie Critics
…There are some stupid films that rock, if you turn your brain off and enjoy them. “Alone in the Dark” isn’t one of these…
—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
…a ridiculously inept thriller… One of those rare instances of a movie being so bad …it’s still really bad…
—Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
…no amount of explanation can give coherence to such a disjointed mess…
—Bill White, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
…Sci-fi fans will want to leave this “Alone”… Unconvincing leads, nonsensical plot, dumb staging…
—Paul Sherman, Boston Herald
…At a recent screening, the audience hooted in derision during a ridiculously long voice-over prologue, as a narrator droned on and on…
—Russell Scott Smith, New York Post
…It’s hard to imagine a movie with less going for it than “Alone in the Dark,” a hokey, recycled collection of mumbo-jumbo… muddled mess…
—Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic