The Good

The Bad

Alone in the Dark seems to derive elements from Raiders of the Lost Arc, Resident Evil, Aliens and it seems every other film in the “dark” action/horror film genre. This isn’t to say that Alone in the Dark is a bad movie, it just didn’t really blow me away. Truthfully, I think that the stars of the film Christian Slater, Tara Reid and Stephen Dorff all did commendable jobs. Before I had seen this movie, I heard nothing but bad things about it. I explicitly remember my friend driving me to return to this movie to Hollywood Video. On the way there (he had just screened the film by himself) he broke the entire film down, piece by piece, so that by the time I actually got around to screening Alone in the Dark for myself, I really wasn’t expecting much.

The tale of paranormal private investigator (Slater) delving into a big mystery from his past, leads him to cross paths with his ex-girlfriend (Reid) and his bitter nemesis (Dorff). Along the way, they realize that they have all got to work together if they are going to stop these beasts which seem to turn ordinary human beings into killing machines. Okay, so the plot and the story are not the most original and truthfully I am leaving a lot out of the story as a whole. I guess maybe I feel that the acting (of all things) is what ended up elevating this material. Sure, there are the obligatory quick cuts, techno-pop music and every other device that seems to be used in “video game” films, but within this I feel that what the actors actually did with their characters was something a tad different. I didn’t feel that I was watching some one dimensional arcade movie. I felt that there was just enough action, just enough acTING and enough creepiness to think differently about this movie then my friends did.

While not spectacular, I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel to Alone in the Dark. If nothing else, I think the ending of this movie sort of sets one up. Whether this will happen or not surely depends on how financially viable this proposition is. At the very least, I am sure that they could knock off Alone in the Dark II as a straight to video title.

Features

Into the Dark - The Making of Alone in the Dark

Nothing really new here, just the actors and films creators talking about what it was like making this film. What was very interesting was hearing about how they adapted this movie from a video game. As this is a basically a puff piece, you aren’t going to really learn too much about the film that you don’t already know. Still, I found that this was a nice companion piece to this movie as it did answer some questions that I had while watching the film itself. I do hope that the director is wrong and that video games are not replacing books as source material for movies; at least not permanently.

Shedding a Light - The Visual Effects of Alone in the Dark

This little piece is almost worth the price of admission alone. I find effects work on films like this to be fascinating. In all formats it is very interesting. Whether I am learning about CGI, or creature FX, I find that all of this is very interesting because it really examines people’s creativity. You have these beasts and these vistas that are created from nothing but people’s imagination. And then this is usually interpreted by the skilled craftspeople that bring it all to life. A very well done extra for this DVD.

Trivia Track, Music Videos and Storyboard to Film Comparisons

The trivia track is a cool subtitled track that comes up with little tidbits as you watch the movie. If you are feeling more daring you can watch music videos by Dimmu Borgir, In Flames and Kataklysm and others. After that you can watch a storyboard comparison of the Pinkerton Chase or the Sandworms sequence. If I was more into actually directing movies I think I would appreciate these comparisons more, but at the very least they are worth a look to see how these interesting shot compositions translate to the big screen.

Director’s Commentary

These are the kinds of commentary tracks that I like. They take us through the film but they explain why certain things ended up being in there. They don’t really explain the film so much as what went into making the film and this is the kind of director’s commentary that does me the most good. I say this because I am not interested in a director’s interpretation of the material (haven’t we already seen that in the completed film?), I am more interested in why the director made the choices they made ... the nuts and bolts of the physical production. Uwe Boll does a very good job in providing us with all the insight that we need into this process.

Video

16:9 Widescreen. This movie really did look good. While I stated previously, there was nothing particularly amazing about it, I felt that the beasts that inhabit this movie looked good. They looked real and as a result they didn’t seem stand out against the backgrounds in which they were CG’d against. As this movie is a “dark” film (by “dark” I mean the locations used in the movie, not the actual tone of the piece), I was rather surprised at how quickly the pace moved. It didn’t seem to get caught up in being this moody piece, or bogged down within the subject matter. It seemed to move at a solid pace and I never felt like I was overwhelmed with action. I was also amazed at how clear the the DVD transfer was. This movie really looks good. The dark parts are dark without being draining on the story. The daytime shots seem to be extra crisp. There were times when I watched this movie that I wondered if this movie hadn’t been shot in Hi-Defintion video rather then film. I say this simply because the crispness of the images really stood out nicely throughout the entire film.

Audio

6.1 DTS - ES Digital Audio - 5.1 Dolby Surround EX. The sound for this movie is top notch. One look at those specifications and I think people with home theater systems are going to be quite pleased. It would seem that a movie like Alone in the Dark could really have a second life on DVD. I say this because so many people are putting home theaters in their living rooms that a movie like this could really take advantage of that. People getting these systems want movies that will make full use of the technology they possess. While I may not be a huge fan of pure spectacle films, I can understand why people are. They like the look, the picture, the bigness of the image and most importantly ... the sound. The way they can hear everything in new and amazing ways as it rushes through each speaker. It plays at different levels and volumes giving people the feeling that they are surrounded by the movie. Alone in the Dark seems to come fully equipped to create this experience and more.

Package

A very eery front cover. What looks to be an x-ray of the human chest cavity is subverted with images of a bestial thing lurking inside. The fact that this is done in a chromatic black and white does nothing but add to this image. The back features a downward shot of one of the beasts, a description of the movie (which thankfully doesn’t give too much away), and a listing of the special features and this disks technical specifications. This isn’t the greatest packaging I have ever seen, but it has a unique look. It stands out and the colors contrast themselves so at the very least, a prospective viewer will be obliged to take a second look.

Final Word

Again, I am not saying that Alone in the Dark is the greatest horror movie ever made. I just think that for what it was it wasn’t that bad. Maybe I had heard so many bad things about this movie, that anything would have impressed me? I don’t think that this is the case, though. I really got into the the story. I liked the look of the film. I am a big a Christian Slater fan (although I don’t keep up with all his movies like I used to), and I have sort of always been waiting for Mr. Dorff to live up to his potential so I think maybe I went into this film with something of a rooting interest for it’s stars.

Either way, rent or buy this movie. When you watch it, turn off all the lights and prepare to have an experience.

Alone In The Dark was released January 28, 2005.