Written & Directed by: Michael Roesch and Peter Scheerer
Starring: Lance Henriksen, Bill Moseley, Danny Trejo, and Rick Yune
Reviewed by: Brett G.
"You know stuff about the occult--ghosts and shit."
"That's delicate stuff. And it don't come cheap."
For the past decade, Uwe Boll has been a thorn in the sides of people who enjoy quality cinema. Known especially for his (very loose) adaptations of video game properties, Boll introduced himself to horror fans with the release of House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark, both of which were horrifying for all the wrong reasons. Now, a few years later, a sequel to that latter effort has arrived: Alone in the Dark II, now featuring 50% less Uwe Boll! Fret not, however--though the good doctor is no longer behind the camera, he did stick around in a producer role, which can only serve to diminish the hopes of movie-goers everywhere.
Edward Carnby (who is suddenly Asian and not Christian Slater) has tracked down a mystical dagger belonging to a powerful witch. Unfortunately, said dagger is in the possession of a junkie who ends up stabbing Carnby, which unwittingly makes him a cipher for the witch's actions. Fortunately, however, Dexter (Bill Moseley) and crew are there to save the day. It turns out Dexter's family has a history with the witch, who has targeted his daughter, Natalie, for extinction. Along the way, they drag retired witch hunter Abner Lundberg out of retirement to face off against his old nemesis.
The events that follow are nothing short of mundane, tedious, and altogether flaccid. There's absolutely no spark or energy to this film, which just lumbers along before petering out to its fairly predictable conclusion. There's nothing particularly exciting, and certainly nothing particularly scary about the film. I won't say it's an inept film in execution; however, it just fails to be even slightly entertaining on any conceivable level. There's not even too many moments where the film is unwittingly amusing. Still, it never reaches Boll-level of absurdity, which can be either good or bad depending on your viewpoint.
Going in, I was hoping that the decent cast assembled might be the film's saving grace. However, I've made the same mistake with Boll-directed films, and this one pretty much follows suit. No one here is particularly bad, mind you; everyone involved just seems slightly bored. At one point, a portal to the witch's realm is opened, and Lance Henriksen delivers an "oh my God" that's said with all the conviction of an old man who's pissed that some kids are loitering in his front yard. Poor Lance deserves better, even if that only means more DTV Pumpkinhead flicks (or, better yet, the oft-rumored Millennium film).
Similarly, Bill Moseley tries his best, and it's a bit odd seeing him in a good guy role, but he's ultimately wasted. Perhaps the biggest travesty is the non-use of Danny "Machete" Trejo, who should probably be the coolest, biggest threat to the witch in the film, but no. PJ Soles similarly shows up twice for about a combined 30 seconds for seemingly no reason at all as well. Rick Yune is hopelessly bland as Carnby and only made me wish Slater was back about 10 minutes in. It doesn't help that any of these people are saddled with dialogue that ranges from clunky to mediocre cliches.
At least all the action is visually handled well by directors Roesch and Scheerer. If anything the film probably looks a lot better than it should, but even it can't shake off the cheap, made-for-television quality that pervades every other aspect of the film. The effects are weak and lack imagination, and the witch's design basically consists of an actress wearing some cheap makeup. There's also a few amorphous CGI blobs thrown in for good measure to act as a physical threat to the characters; however, all the deaths occur off-screen, and there's very little gore to speak of. All in all, this one just doesn't offer any compelling reason whatsoever for you to give it your attention unless you're a hardcore fan of the video game series. And even then, you're probably still going to want to punch Boll in the face.
Despite being finished for well over a year, the film hasn't even been released in North America (and for good reason). However, Region 2 fans will see it released on July 27th by High Fliers. The screener sent to me reveals that the disc at least will be solid, as the transfer and soundtrack are both adequate. There's also going to be a behind-the-scenes documentary as well, which could certainly have the potential of being more entertaining the film itself (particularly if we get some footage of Raging Boll in the ring). Region 1 folks shouldn't fret however--this one seems to be right up SyFy's alley and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it show up there in the future. If it doesn't, then that tells you all you need to know if even SyFy won't touch it. Even hardcore fans of the game will be disappointed by this. In fact, everyone should leave it where the title suggests: alone and in the dark. Trash it!
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