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Movie Review

Edward Carnby is a paranormal investigator with fuzzy memories of his childhood orphanage. The place was run by the evil Professor Hudgens, a researcher fascinated with the ancient Abkani Indian tribe, an extinct group said to have opened the gate between the worlds of light and darkness. Using the orphans as lab rats, Hudgens sought to reopen that gate and release its evil into the world again.

Twenty-two years later, Carnby spends his time digging up Abkani artifacts from around the globe. Formerly an agent with Bureau 713, a government organization that deals with paranormal activity, Carnby discovers that evil monster-like creatures are on his trail and all his former fellow orphans are suddenly zombies intent on killing him.

Together with archeologist gal-pal Aline Cedrac and Commander Richards, the current head of Bureau 713, Carnby races to stop the zombies, the monsters and Hudgens’s plan to reopen the gate to hell.

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Positive Elements

Slim pickings. The best I can do here is mention that several characters risk their own lives to save others.

Spiritual Content

We’re warned early in the film of a supernatural world around us that we’ve trained ourselves not to see and that “just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there.” However, the “demons” from the “world of darkness” turn out to be visible and angry creatures that rip people up. Hell is pictured as a giant cavern full of these creatures. And demon possessions of humans are accomplished by attaching a worm-thing on someone’s spine, turning him or her into a zombie-killer.

In spite of her reservations, a Catholic nun at the Our Lady of Perpetual Light Orphanage aids the bad guy in experimenting on children in her care.

Sexual Content

The leads are shown in a brief, underwear-clad sex scene with glimpses of movement and cleavage while a song with the lyric “seven seconds away” plays on the soundtrack.

Violent Content

This movie based on a video game features lots of fake-looking blood and a high body count. Humans are shot, impaled, broken, dismembered, and otherwise terminated both by other humans and by monster-like creatures. We see close-ups of all the low-budget action during and after, including one gruesome shot of a woman’s head split in two.

In a bloody autopsy scene, a doctor removes a worm-like creature from the spine of a body. A Catholic nun is shown dead with her arms bloody apparently from slitting her own wrists.

Crude or Profane Language

The f- and s-word are heard about 10 times each. The names of Jesus Christ and God are used for swearing on several occasions, and milder profanities ("h---," "a--," etc.) are uttered more than 20 times. Harsh slang references a man's genitals.

Drug and Alcohol Content

None.

Other Negative Elements

Some viewers may be bothered by a strobe effect during an extended shootout between humans and zombies. Loud, hard metal music accompanies the action during several violent scenes and over the closing credits.

Conclusion

Uwe Boll, the German director of Alone in the Dark, thinks it's time ultra-popular and ultra-violent video games get their due in Hollywood. After all, so many movies are based on best-selling books and, as he tells FilmForce, “Video games are the best-selling books of the younger generation.”

Unfortunately, he’s got a point. According to the Chicago Tribune, Americans brought home $6.2 billion worth of video games in 2004, up 8 percent from the year before. And the top two selling games were the M-rated (for mature) and graphically violent Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Halo 2.

Of course, a popular video game series like Atari’s Alone in the Dark franchise (based on stories by H.P. Lovecraft) doesn’t automatically translate into a winning film. That requires a good script, some character development, decent acting and a plot that makes sense to people who haven’t played the game. Boll didn’t program any of those into the strictly C-grade Alone in the Dark, in which Christian Slater and cast appear uncomfortable and perplexed while uttering ridiculous lines and running to and fro in the dark.

Violent video games have earned the reputation of training players to lower the value they place on human life by repeatedly blowing virtual folks to kingdom come. Movies and games like Alone in the Dark that supposedly feature killer demons also lower the respect given to real supernatural evil. When demons are nothing more than pixels and hell is the home of comic book villains, why worry about your soul?

The Apostle Paul said our fight is not against flesh and blood. In an era when imaginations are captured by virtual battles with dumbed-down devils while the real one goes unnoticed, those words ring more true than ever.

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Plot Summary

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Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

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Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Christian Slater as Edward Carnby; Tara Reid as Aline Cedrac; Stephen Dorff as Commander Richards

Distributor

Lionsgate

Network

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In Theaters

On Video

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Awards

Reviewer

Christopher Lyon

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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