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Cinematic Darkness 

It's a bad week for horror movies: 'Alone in the Dark' is memorably terrible

The opening narration of Alone in the Dark goes on and on with some malarkey about our world being shared with a world of darkness that we cannot see. I concur that we inhabit the planet along with a world of darkness, but that world is quite viewable and is inhabited by the likes of Tara Reid and Stephen Dorff.

Based on some video game, the film follows the helplessly incoherent exploits of Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), a paranormal investigator who has fuzzy memories of childhood trauma and a really stupid-looking brown leather trench coat. Carnby has been globetrotting looking for artifacts from an ancient civilization that supposedly disappeared after unleashing some sort of monster force from the bowels of the Earth. He and his banal girlfriend (Reid) band together against these forces or whatever they are, and basically take part in a bunch of gunplay and running around that makes absolutely no sense.

As a critic, it's embarrassing, and not to mention a little unprofessional, to admit when a film completely confounded you to the point where you had no freaking idea what happened in it. I'm making this admission to you right now, because Alone in the Dark had me baffled like no other movie before it. At one point, it's an Alien rip-off, then it's a Starship Troopers rip-off, then it journeys into zombie flick territory, all the while sucking like a vacuum cleaner on Sunday.

Here's what I was able to follow: Christian Slater's character has some sort of affiliation with a museum. When Carnby was a child, he was part of some group of orphans who were the victims of a weird mad scientist's experimentations with freaky centipedes. The centipedes would fuse to the spinal cords of the children, and then when some worldwide signal was given, they would all become zombies intent on killing Christian Slater. Stephen Dorff heads up some sort of paranormal task force, trouncing around looking all authoritative with his furrowed brow and wispy hair.

Back at the museum, Tara Reid wears glasses with her hair in a bun to appear all scholarly, but as soon as she opens her mouth, it's obvious that she hasn't a clue what she is talking about. The mad scientist with the freaky centipedes is also in charge of the museum, which causes Reid to have a confused and forlorn look on her face as if incapable of mustering the slightest of intelligible thoughts. No ... wait ... that's the expression she always has on.

There is then some sort of final gun battle against super charged demon dogs that are invisible, but you can see them, or we can see them, but the movie characters can not. Many movie friends die, like Richards the computer guy, and Turner the guy who fixed the generator. Sadly, Sister Clara, the corrupted nun, also meets her demise. OK, I give up.

Somehow, Slater manages to survive this, the consummate acting professional making the best out of the dung pile he was handed. Dorff is another story, overacting and chewing scenery to the point where one expects pieces of the set to come shooting out of his ass. Reid is hands-down the worst actress I have ever seen, and this is not an exaggeration. She makes me feel sorry for the bad things I wrote about Shelley Long.

This movie is only for people with crazed admiration for Tara Reid's abnormal midriff and members of the Stephen Dorff fan club (all four of them). Others should settle for more rewarding activities, such as continuously slamming your head in an SUV's door or bathing in aphids.

More by Bob Grimm

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