Uwe Boll Wants Me Alone In the Dark
Uwe Boll. Merely mentioning this infamous Hollywood director's name blows shockwaves of contempt through the angsty Internet nerd community, vicious piranhas swarming from the murky waste of IRC and the depressing depths of blogs to denounce their undying hatred of this small German man. How could so many independent, individual groups loathe one individual with such infectious vitriol? Simple: Uwe Boll is destroying the childhoods and fond gaming memories of Internet nerds across the country with each and every cinematic bastardization he produces. Having torn through "House of the Dead," "Alone in the Dark," and "Bloodrayne" like a diseased-ravaged wolf, gamers are declaring an electronic jihad against this enigmatic director for defiling their favorite high quality games that tackle such pressing, real world issues as "zombies that try to kill you" and "vampires who try to kill Nazis."
Why? What sets this man apart from any director who releases through Full Moon Video? Are his movies really that bad? Can anything truly justify the passionate animosity of a million angry nerds slamming sausage-sized fingers onto their keyboards?
Simply put, yes. Dr. Boll as he's known to people who probably don't really know him, has repeatedly found himself on the receiving end of tens of millions of dollars stapled to a contract simply reading "UWE PLEASE MAK MOVIE ABOUT VID GAME THX ." His results consistently reproduce themselves each and every time; a box office disaster causes the film to vanish within days, later resurfacing on DVD and inexplicably selling millions of copies to some awkward third-world country like Burundi or Burkina Faso, who periodically interrupt their outbreaks of genocide and ethnic cleansing to recall their favorite scene from "House of the Dead" (the bullet-time sequence in the graveyard).
To make things worse, a phrase often difficult to say during a Uwe Boll movie, the esteemed director frequently displays some bizarre delusional mental disorder that convinces him people actually love his movies and all the folks who say they stink (aka the entire Internet, nearly all critics, most major film directors, the American public as a whole) either don't exist in this plane of reality or have been brainwashed by some insidious, nefarious secret society, such as the Organization of People Who Don't Make Terrible Movies. This internal conflict results in seemingly random acts of insanity, as displayed in his latest wacky public antic: threatening to beat up his harshest Internet critics.
Notorious movie director Dr. Uwe Boll, most well known for his numerous film adaptations of video games, has extended a bizarre offer to his five harshest critics: fly out to Vancouver and face him in the boxing ring. During shooting for his upcoming film Postal, Boll will set aside two days to fight each detractor in a ten bout match. To determine who have been his most vitriolic nemeses, Boll is accepting self-nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org, which must be accompanied by proof of negative reviews or internet forum comments. Only critical comments from 2005 will be accepted, presumably to ensure that only longstanding critics, rather than those spurred on by this contest, are in the running.
While I may have withheld my personal distaste for Uwe Boll in the past, various Something Awful writers have not, producing a feature which Mr. Dr. Boll contacted me about early last year. He (somehow, for some reason) emailed me and offered to personally fly me up to Vancouver so I could watch him edit "Bloodrayne," an event which would (somehow, for some reason) suddenly make me think his movies did not belong in an official NASA probe headed directly for the sun. Unfortunately, my wife chose that time frame to give birth to our daughter, so I politely declined. Besides, I knew watching a small human being crawl out of my wife's vagina would be infinitely less horrifying than personally witnessing the grotesque mistake Ben Kingsley stumbled into.
So I decided to give it a shot. I sent Mr. Boll and email, asking him if his offer still stood. Would he still fly me up to participate in one of his unintentionally horrific non-horror films, this time with the lure of physically kicking the snot out of me on film? Well folks, I'm proud to say the answer was "yes." Mr. Dr. Sr. Boll replied and "added me to the list," the list of folks he plans on beating up because we talked bad about him on the Internet. In exchange for this incredible privilege, I promised Dr. Mrs. Boll PhD that I would actually sit down and review his films "Alone in the Dark" and "House of the Dead" so people would know I'm completely serious about hating this man and letting him punch me in the face until he decides to stop. Without further ado, I present to you my belated "Alone In the Dark" review, part one of a two-part series which will solidify my concrete standing on Uwe's Internet Shitlist.
"ALONE IN THE DARK" - A MOVIE BY A STUPID GERMAN JERK WHO IS STUPID AND SMELLS AND PROBABLY MOLESTS DEAD CHILDREN, ALTHOUGH IF THAT LAST PART IS CONSIDERED SLANDER AND / OR LIBEL IN CANADA, THEN JUST DISREGARD IT AND PRETEND IT ACTUALLY SAID HE MOLESTS LIVING CHILDREN INSTEAD
Although "Alone In the Dark" didn't plunge through the bottom of my terrible movie expectations like an Israeli wedding party, it definitely solidified my perception of Uwe Boll as a person unfit to approach any camera not directly mounted on a police cruiser's dashboard. Like Boll's entire career, "Alone In the Dark" was directly inspired by a video game, as can be seen in this highly accurate, side-by-side comparison:
IN THE ORIGINAL GAME: The protagonist, a blocky and featureless Edward Carnby, must explore a haunted house and determine why the owner committed suicide.
IN THE MOVIE: The protagonist, a blocky and featureless Christian Slater, must explore Canada and determine why his career committed suicide.
IN THE ORIGINAL GAME: Carnby must defend himself from zombies, ghosts, and other monsters directly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.
IN THE MOVIE: Carnby must defend himself against computer generated snakes and some sort of armored horse-dog creature directly inspired by the graphics card on somebody's HP.
IN THE ORIGINAL GAME: The game ends when your character flees through the haunted house's front door and escapes outside.
IN THE MOVIE: The movie ends when you flee through your house's front door and escape outside.
IN THE ORIGINAL GAME: Weapons include rifles, revolvers, swords and bows, all designed to maim and kill the bloodthirsty zombies.
IN THE MOVIE: Weapons include loud noises, terrible heavy metal music, and laborious slow motion sequences, all designed to maim and kill the section of your brain critical of uninspired film cliches from the mid-1990s.
As mentioned above, Slater slums through the film as Carnby, some kind of unofficial paranormal investigator kicked off the official paranormal investigator team because, apparently, he didn't investigate enough paranormal... things. Or perhaps he investigated them in an incorrect, un-approved way. Like the government called him up one day and said, "hey Ed, we got word there's a haunted piano on 1834 Baker Street, why don't you go check it out?" and instead of wearing his official paranormal investigation hat (which he lost during a slow motion bar fight), he put on a fedora with a notecard lodged in the brim reading "GHOST HUNTER!!!" scrawled in Crayola.
"Division 713," the super-secret Canadian paranormal investigation bureau, is very strict about their paranormal investigation standards. And before you ask, no, I have no clue what Divisions 1 through 712 spend Canada's tax money on. Perhaps hunting non-supernatural entities, such as real estate brokers dressed up as Frankensteins in some lame, convoluted attempt to force an old man to sell his property to them. Wait, Frankenstein was the name of the doctor, not the monster, I think. In either case they're both dead, so I guess ultimately it doesn't matter.
Carnby has been spending the previous 20 or 30 or maybe 100 years of his life tracking down and collecting "Abskani" artifacts, a job which presumably pays well enough to afford a warehouse home full of discarded Pier-1 furniture and assorted lamps resting on countless wooden boxes for absolutely no reason. I can't really quite convey the sheer absurdity of Carnby's silly apartment warehouse. Imagine one of those throwaway Doom or Doom 2 maps that take place in a warehouse stacked to the ceiling with UAC crates full of... things. Now toss a couple hundred thousand lamps on top of these crates and inject Kirstie Alley's disgusting bedroom into the middle of it. Viola, you just made yourself an unofficial paranormal investigator's house!
After surviving an attack by a vicious killer enraged by the fact Uwe Boll physically trapped him inside his film, Carnby meets up with super scientist action archeologist Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), who is supposed to be "smart" because she wears glasses. Her glasses work in the same way that Clark Kent conceals his identity as Superman by donning spectacles, only in this case Reid isn't actually the Man of Steel, she's a whore.
Soon the parts of the puzzle begin to fall into place, and the viewer begins to realize none of them fit; this is a Uwe Boll film and the pieces were apparently stolen from 18 different puzzles, most of which were covered with drool and partially digested saltine crackers. As far as I can discern, Division 713, led by an evil professor who is like an alien or a devil or possessed or just old or something, kidnapped Carnby and 20 other orphans (I can't recall the exact number; orphans aren't real people, just like midgets and Swedes) when they were children, then surgically implanted snakes in their spinal columns for, well, some reason which I'm sure seemed terribly important at the time. I can imagine the scenario at Division 713 headquarters:
CHIEF OLD GUY IN CHARGE OF THE EVIL DIVISION: "Sir, I'd like your permission to kidnap some orphans and put devil snakes in their spines. It's a very important medical experiment which will possibly answer tremendously exciting scientific questions, such as the age-old mystery, 'what will happen if you kidnap a bunch of orphans and put snakes in their spines?' I feel this could benefit Division 713 in a myriad of useful ways which I'd love to explain if only I didn't have a pressing dental appointment in 15 minutes."
DIRECTOR OF DIVISION 713: "Snakes... in an orphan's spine?!?"
Then there'd be some comical slide whistle sound effect and if the Director was wearing a monocle, it'd promptly pop off and land in his cup of coffee. Carnby's spinal snake apparently failed to take over his central nervous system thanks to a scene depicting him hiding in an electrical shack, which, uh, somehow killed the snake due to its failure to adhere to proper TIA/E1A CAT 6 standards.
In his search for the truth, Carnby travels to an abandoned gold mine, ancient Abskani ruins, a top secret military research lab, and an underworld cavern of hell teeming with countless evil, deadly armored devil dog horse creatures, ALL OF WHICH ARE LINKED TOGETHER DIRECTLY UNDER THE ORPHANAGE. I kid you not. Talk about the absolute shittiest place in the universe to build an orphanage. The nun who bought the joint must've gotten one heck of a deal; usually land located directly above ancient evil ruins and an army of black death swarming to eradicate all humanity gets at least a 75% discount off the top, perhaps even more if it's near a loud highway.
Between the beginning of the film (when it starts) and the end of the film (when it ends), many trademark Uwe Boll moments rear their ugly head, such as:
1) Slow motion fight scenes which would suck even if they were in normal motion or, better yet, "so fast motion that you can't see them." Christian Slater, who proved his martial arts prowess in "Pump Up the Volume" and, to a lesser degree, "The Wizard," engages in plenty of high octane combat performances where the term "wire work" describes the action about as accurately as "a sailing mishap" describes the Titanic's maiden voyage. Nearly every action scene in every Boll film must have at least 80% of it in slow motion while terrible German metal / hip hop blares in the background like an electric guitar trapped in a wastewater treatment facility.
2) An overall structural format tightly adhering to: VERY, VERY LOUD ACTION SEQUENCE followed by quiet things that are interrupted by a VERY, VERY LOUD ACTION SEQUENCE that eventually gives way to something quiet although that soon turns into a VERY, VERY LOUD ACTION SEQUENCE. I could tolerate this if perhaps Uwe Boll agreed to fly out and manually adjust the volume at appropriate times, but since even the most basic cordless telephone reportedly causes him "great mental distress," I sincerely doubt he'd be able to handle such a monumental task. The extreme volume discrepancies made it nearly impossible to hear any of Tara Reid's lines, forcing me to adlib her dialogue and replace it with, "I was like so drunk last night that I had sex with-", then completing the sentence by naming the nearest breathing creature in the shot. In one scene she is alone in a room full of large wooden statues, and sadly enough, my forced dialogue still seemed plausible.
3) Horrible plot holes large enough to swallow $20 million budgets and a never ending list of questions which cannot be answered:
- If the ancient Abskani didn't want anybody to open up the doorway to hell, then WHY ON EARTH DID THEY ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY PRODUCE A KEY TO OPEN IT? They could've hit the key with a hammer or bit off a piece of it or, like, not even make a key for it in the first place. Next time I find a gateway to hell sealed by a magic lock I somehow, in some way created, I'll just mail it to myself via the United States Postal Service. There's absolutely no chance I, or anybody else, will ever find it then.
- How exactly do the spinal snakes figure into anything? Where did they come from? Why were they put into orphans' spines to turn them into "sleeper agents" which apparently rise up to the call of duty when somebody casts the Evil Snake Signal into the Canadian clouds?
- Why the hell was there an obligatory "sex" scene between Slater and Reid, which featured neither sex nor a scene? One minute they're talking ancient relics, the next minute he's sleeping and Reid's dry humping him while music from the Dell tech support Indian phone service holding line plays. Then, whoo baby, they're back to talkin' 'bout Abskani. I'll let you guess in which of these scenes Reid is not wearing her glasses.
- Every time a devil dog shows up in a room full of lamps which start flickering because they somehow, in some way disrupt electrical current, hoards of featureless Division 713 soldiers immediately fly crashing through nearby windows, skylights, and spare glass panes. Why do they despise glass so much? Are windows considered "paranormal activity?" If so, these guys are probably the top paranormal investigators in all of Vancouver, possibly even British Columbia.
- Bullets composed of certain minerals (gold, phosphorous, and some other stupid elements) apparently hurt the evil dark horse dogs, in addition to light which is "tuned to a certain frequency." So how come a total of about three dogs (out of approximately ten thousand million) are killed with guns, and not a single one is even wounded by the magical flashlights tuned to the frequency of death? It seems like throughout the entire film, characters are expressing how utterly important it is to shine their enchanted lights on the creatures, yet nobody ever really does. It's like going after Dracula and leaving your collection of garlic, holy water, and crucifixes at home in the storage box where you put the dog food and grilling tools.
- How does Stephen Dorff still have an acting career? I know there are folks out there who think he's a real actor and such, but have you ever really asked yourselves why? His shining career moment took place in "Cold Creek Manor," when he tossed a bunch of snakes into Dennis Quaid's house and his family reacted if they had jumper cables attached to their genitals.
- Why were all the CG "resources" used to animate crudely rendered metal dogs, instead of doing something more appropriate like animating Tara Reid's face in such a fashion that viewers could correctly interpret the emotion she was trying to display at the time. Is it shock? Is she scared? Possibly constipated? Oh she has her glasses on, her current emotion must be "smart." Perhaps they could've added a second pair of glasses on top of her glasses so the audience would think she's twice as intelligent, assuming two times zero somehow, in some way produces a result greater than zero.
While "Alone In the Dark" has raised limitless questions, I fortunately forced myself to forget about half of them. I could go on and on about this movie, detailing such fabulous cinematic events as when a dead soldier starts getting up before the shot cuts (don't worry; she's dead again in the next shot!) or how every individual scene resembles a direct ripoff of countless existing science fiction films, but I'll allow the numbers to speak for themselves. I admit, there's no way I could consider this film to be anything nearly as bad as movies like "Robo Vampire" or "Troll 2," but those films transcend the category of "bad" with such reckless abandon that they smash through the scale and somehow end up being terribly amusing. Uwe Boll's tragedy is that he knows enough - barely enough - to produce a film failing to fall into the "so bad it's good" abyss, instead locking it into the "just plain bad" purgatory of movies. Perhaps the good doctor will throw in a couple gratuitous bullet-time sequences into his upcoming "A Dungeon Siege Tale," maybe when Jason Statham is swinging his sword at some orcs or Burt Reynolds or something. Then again, it's a movie about a farmer who is named "Farmer," so I'm not exactly expecting much.