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Alone In The Dark

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Beware the film that confuses before it even begins. An adaptation of the long-running game series of the same title, Alone In The Dark begins with a Star Wars-like opening crawl that sets up a universe of lost Native American tribes, H.P. Lovecraft-esque subterranean monsters, secret government agencies, and scattered artifacts. This introduction goes on for so long that it seems like it's going to segue into the closing credits. Even with a voiceover reading the text in ominous tones (a service presumably provided for the lazy or illiterate), it clarifies nothing. A much better introduction would read, "You are about to watch an incomprehensible, murkily photographed film featuring faded stars who look like they'd rather be anywhere else." It's true, to the point, and it makes a lot more sense.

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In the kind of role that actors take in a desperate attempt to avoid disappearing into the direct-to-DVD realm for good, Christian Slater stars as a man haunted by a past he only vaguely remembers. Returning from a trip to retrieve an ancient relic, he's attacked by a bald man who's seemingly impervious to bullets, but is capable of being killed by a rod through the heart. Undaunted by his macabre encounter, Slater returns to the loving arms of Tara Reid, a brilliant museum curator. How brilliant? Not only does she wear smart-looking glasses, she also puts her hair up in a pensive bun whenever she's engaging in deep thought. (It remains unclear what her many layers of make-up symbolize.) Eventually, Stephen Dorff shows up as an agent of Bureau 713, a top-secret government operation that's much more underground than Bureaus 529, 327, or 670. In a related development, snarling CGI baddies that look like the hellhounds from Ghostbusters also hit the scene, forcing everyone to converge on an abandoned gold mine in a last-ditch effort to save humanity. This mostly involves a lot of gunplay in badly lit rooms.

In addition to the reams of exposition, the pre-movie material also includes one other crucial bit of information: The line "An Uwe Boll Film." Boll last surfaced as the director of House Of The Dead, another video-game adaptation, and he's currently adapting Bloodrayne. The cheap, loud Alone In The Dark marks an improvement over Boll's last effort, simply because it doesn't cut away to subliminal flashes of images from the game itself, but the artistic evolution pretty much stops there. Reid, Dorff, and Slater piece together clues, proceed to new locations, and shoot up the forces of evil, then start the process again. Occasionally, loud things happen that don't make much sense, but don't get in the way of the action, either. In that, Alone In The Dark is a fairly faithful adaptation of what a game is like, but without the pleasure of getting to play or the much-needed option of pressing the "off" button.

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