Comfortable and Furious

Alone in the Dark

The opening narration is solemn, almost noble. With Biblical overtones and a crawl nearly twice as long and detailed as the original Star Wars, we are immediately, and in no uncertain terms, asked to take seriously the most ridiculous premise in many a moon. I’d rehash it here, but for the sake of time, let it be said that some ancient civilization (10,000 years ago, if we are to believe the film) once opened a mysterious portal that let loose the creatures of the damned, and light was forever compromised by the forces of darkness.

These beasts, a hybrid of the Predator, the Aliens, and the bugs from Starship Troopers, infect unwilling hosts by attaching themselves to the spinal cord, growing to maturity, and turning their victims into zombies. My guess is that they’ll eventually take over the world, although that’s never really made clear. Instead, we are forced to watch Christian Slater (in his big comeback, I’m guessing) save the world, but not without the help of both Stephen Dorff and Tara Reid. Is this what heroism has been reduced to in the age of mediocrity? And how, my friends.

Slater is Edward Carnby, some dude who, as we meet him, is running somewhere with an artifact. We know it’s important because some bald guy is chasing him through the streets trying to kill him. This same bald guy is the sort of villain who is twice shot in the heart, only to keep going with the force of a tank. He’s eventually felled, however, by a sharp stick. Carnby is a former member of “713,” a top-secret government agency investigating the paranormal, a fact established by the presence of bleeping computers and screaming agents back at headquarters.

But Carnby was a renegade, see, so he’s out of the loop until these artifacts start showing up and some megalomaniacal archaeologist (is there any other kind?) starts his own killing spree. We learn that this madman once kidnapped several dozen orphans, implanted baby monsters into their backs, and waited for the results. His mad scheme was discovered, and he lost all funding from the government. I guess the rest of the movie, then, is his revenge, but again, that isn’t made clear. We do know, however, that Carnby was one of those stolen children, although his monster never grew because he was electrocuted as a boy. At this point, Battlefield Earth is starting to sound like The Godfather.

Carnby’s great love is Aline, played by Tara Reid who clearly has something to prove. Donning a pair of nerdy glasses, she’s painfully trying to release the intellectual within, although her archaeologist/museum curator is one of the least convincing portrayals in cinema history. But that goes without saying. It should be an iron rule that no academic should at any time appear to have just returned from three hours of pole dancing, but director Uwe Boll seems to have misplaced that memo. But this is a movie based on a video game, after all, so it seems appropriate that when appealing to your average teenage boy, it’s fine that teachers and others inclined to a life of the mind would pay close attention to their bust size, midriff, and display of ass crack.

These babes are whores first and foremost, and no one really wants to hear the Queen of Vapid ramble on about astronomy and ancient cultures. The poor dear is even saddled with the old chestnut, “Some doors just shouldn’t be opened,” which is more telling than she knows. And it doesn’t take a genius to know that there would be a sex scene between Reid and Slater, albeit one of the most gratuitous and least erotic ever filmed. What’s more, the all-too-brief session comes immediately following Reid’s fiddling on the computer. One can only imagine her inner dialogue: “Learning hurt bad. Head too full. Fuckee-fuckee make it all better.” And so it does. After riding Slater like a stallion, she never again attempts a polysyllabic utterance.

But I can’t leave Reid quite yet. What can be said when, as an academic, she refers to Chile as “chill-EE,” and Newfoundland as “new-FOUND-land?” What’s worse, no one corrects her. Even that bearded scientist who’s spent decades in the field. And where’s Stephen Dorff been lately? Not like I’ve noticed (I’ve never forgiven him for the deplorable S.F.W.) And now that he’s returned from a much-deserved exile, was it really necessary that he help save humanity? And as a martyr, too! So why deny us the opportunity to watch him die? He blows up a mine shaft that leads to the nest of these creatures, but we can only presume he didn’t make it.

And then the film ends with the hint that maybe one or two got loose, which means a possible sequel. I also liked the dead nun (who doesn’t?!) who expired after slashing her wrists. Apparently, she felt guilty because she was the one who sold the children for experimental purposes. And while I’m just rambling about nothing in particular, what was with the government agent who looked like she was auditioning for a Nelly video? Is this how our tax dollars are being spent? She too tried to sound technically savvy, but came off instead like a pretentious stripper. Chicks with those kind of racks can do plenty in life, but I doubt they read, study, or debate metaphysics. Hell, I’m not sure they even remain upright for more than a minute or so per day. But we’re in Uwe’s world, baby, and chicks will suck cock while reciting Shakespeare if they must.

And for those who care, there are plenty of exploding heads, torn limbs, and the improbable appearance of America’s lone white cab driver. Slater also narrates like a noir anti-hero, only the end of the world doesn’t sound so dire from his perspective. He’d rather be removing his shirt or tending to Tara’s dye job. He’s probably just thankful to be working again. I know we all are.



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