Alone in the Dark II (Movie Review)
Over the past twenty-plus years, I've spent an extraordinary amount of time watching everything from highbrow arthouse tearjerkers to microbudget vomit gore. During that period, I can't recall ever encountering a movie that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. I've been confused, perplexed, and, occasionally, too stupid to make heads or tails of the material, but I've never been completely in the dark about what, exactly, is transpiring on screen. I'm no intellectual giant, but I like to think I'm educated enough to firmly grasp the basic, fundamental concepts present in most motion pictures, especially in regards to direct-to-video sequels inspired by lackluster theatrical releases.
Wonky directors Michael Roesch and Peter Scheerer‘s goofy 2008 sequel "Alone in the Dark II" is, if nothing else, aptly named. I was, metaphorically speaking, locked in solitary confinement without a proper light source to illuminate my surroundings for roughly 90 unbearable minutes. For instance, why is everyone in the movie either terminally brain dead or impossibly annoying? When, precisely, did Edward Carnby become a handsome Asian guy with prominent cheekbones and stylish hair? Did I just see Michael Pare hanging out in a seedy public bathroom? Isn't that the brother from "Titus"? Am I supposed to be scared of mist, fog, and vapor? All valid questions, though the answers are few and far between.
Truthfully, I have no idea what "Alone in the Dark II" is about. I'm not kidding. Maybe it's a muddled, indecipherable mess executed by two dodgy individuals who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a movie set. Maybe the film got lost in the editing room. Maybe I didn't approach the project with enough alcohol and illegal narcotics flowing through my veins. They all sound like good arguments to me. However, in the spirit of constructing a thoughtful, well-rounded review, I'll do my very best to wrangle the unwieldy plot points and arrange them in the best way I know how. Coherence, I'm afraid, isn't a guarantee.
To the best of my knowledge, “Alone in the Dark II” has next to nothing in common with the first film. Edward Carnby, the hero previous portrayed by Christian Slater, is alive and well, though his relevance to the plot is minimal and, at times, totally perplexing. Instead, the audience is treated to a seemingly random tale about a group of witch hunters, their wispy, ethereal prey, and the young woman who’s sole purpose is to act as a sacrificial lamb once she comes of age. Oh, and there’s a dagger of negligible importance, lots of people standing around with a wide variety of firearms, loads of self-important dialogue, and a slew of cameos. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.
In cases like this, the absurdity of the storyline, the lameness of the acting, and the shoddiness of the special effects are usually enough to provide some sort of entertainment, be it intentional or unintentional. Uwe Boll -- who serves as producer for this outing -- has made a career out of the crafting movies that are, in theory, “so bad they're good,” and even then his success rate is spotty. “Alone in the Dark II” isn’t amusing, regardless of how bargain basement your cinematic standards may be. It’s just trash, plain and simple, lying limp and lifeless in the middle of a long, boring stretch of road peppered with ho-hum special effects and numerous genre clichés.
The only thing remotely noteworthy about the picture is its remarkably robust selection of genre-friendly players. The list reads like a veritable who’s who of B-movie mayhem: Lance Henriksen, Bill Moseley, Danny Trejo, Zack Ward, and the long lost P.J. Soles all make appearances, leaving you to wonder how much money Boll and company have to spend on their cast. How does he continue to attract actors who should know better than to waste their time on this sort of rotten, funk-encrusted material? I’m sure it all has to do with dollar signs and zeroes and laughing while running toward various banking establishments. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
“Alone in the Dark II” is, in a sense, two turds short of a broken toilet, a mangled cigarette butt at the bottom of your imported beer. A part of me wonders if Boll simply enjoys widespread ridicule, as his movies tend to elicit this sort of response from the people who watch them. I’ll readily admit to owning most of the man’s movies -- “Postal” and “House of the Dead” being personal favorites -- but this particular endeavor is just too mind-numbingly awful for words. In short, don’t watch it. Don’t think about it. Pretend it doesn’t exist. If someone recommends it to you, insult the person’s mother and laugh hysterically. Even if you walk away with a black eye and a broken nose, at least you didn’t have to watch “Alone in the Dark II.”