Film — Alone In The Dark (R)

Alone In The Dark (R)

by Amy Diaz

Christian Slater, Stephen Dorff and Tara Reid grasp hands and leap off a very high cliff onto the very sharp rocks of their career death in the inexplicable horror movie Alone in the Dark.

For the first time in a very long time I am actually tempted to see a movie again. Because, as the credits start to roll on Alone in the Dark, I sat there, jaw agape, unblinking eyes wide open and thinking, “What? Naw…that couldn’t be it. Was that really the movie? No, wait, where am I? Maybe I fell asleep and this is some kind of Twizzler-induced nightmare.”

Watching Alone in the Dark is an experience similar to walking down the street and being suddenly attacked by violent assailants who bludgeon you with giant frozen flounder and then, just as suddenly, run off. In both cases you are left bruised, extremely confused and feeling a little dirty.

In so far as there is some sort of plot: Edward Canby (Slater) is a lone-wolf investigator of the paranormal. Dressed in some stylin’ Guns-N-Roses-circa-“Wanted Dead Or Alive” castoffs, a be-stubbled Canby slinks around collecting the decorative remains of an ancient Indian tribe that, before it vanished, opened a portal between our world and a hellish world full of angry stegosaurus-like creatures. The tribe shut that door real quick but not before a few of the hellosauruses got out and ate them all, or something. That part’s a little hazy, as is how they could all vanish except for the ones that hid their pretty hell-door-unlocking trinkets all over the world. As is the part where a secret government agency knows about the existence of the door and uses the ante-room (hell’s foyer, I suppose) as a place to conduct experiments wherein they sew weird little phallic-shaped aliens onto the spines of orphans. That last part appears to exist for the purposes of motivation. Ya see, Canby is one of those unfortunate orphans and so His Search for the Truth Is Personal.

For help, he turns to Aline (Reid), a scientist who is an expert on the vanished tribe and a former Canby girlfriend. Also, to mix it up, they share scenes of awkward flirtation and even more awkward sex as they get closer to discovering, well, nothing really. But their nails-on-a-chalkboard “romance” fills the time between the scenes in which large numbers of interchangeable government agents fire at the invisible stegosauruses that have gotten loose from the demon zoo.

The government agency, to which Canby once belonged, it run by an overly intense agent named Richards (Dorff). In addition to working against the monsters and a few monster-collaborating-with humans, Canby must fight with Richards because, heck, why not add some subplot?

I started looking for the silhouette heads of Mike Nelson (or Joel Hodgson, if you prefer) and his robot friends almost immediately. Come on, Crow, mock Slater’s stubble. Or, hey, Tom Servo, wouldn’t you like to comment on Reid’s bizarre line readings — which constantly vacillated between wooden and pissy teenager? If ever a movie was made for a midnight showing at a theater that didn’t mind a rowdy crowd and some popcorn cleanup, this was it.

Of course, Alone in the Dark wasn’t made for that at all. It wasn’t made to be a substandard, wildly inept stab at a B-movie, at least I don’t think so. So how did it get made? And why? And, while I’m sure the paths to the doors of Slater, Dorff and Reid have become overgrown and seldom-traveled, what in the name of God possessed them to leave perfectly respectable slides into vaguely sleazy obscurity for this malformed beast?

Ah, the horror movies never answer the really big questions.

- Amy Diaz

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