There are dumb movies. Then there are dumb movies based on video games. And then there’s Alone in the Dark. Now, Hollywood packages plenty of product for the mouth-breathers of the world, but director Uwe Boll takes extra care to avoid having any of his Atari-playin’ viewers get too confused. So things are kicked off with a paragraphs-long backstory on an ancient civilization of supercreatures called the Abkani and their “savage experiments on orphaned children.” The scrolled history could be described as Star Wars–like—except a booming voice recites it, just in case anyone in the audience, y’know, can’t read too good. And in case anyone didn’t read or listen, a way-too-informed security guard at a history museum will reiterate who the Abkani are later—and also oh-so-casually mention that the faux-nerdy woman in glasses (Tara Reid) is the assistant curator of the museum, and that, gosh, this fresh delivery of an Abkani artifact will at least take her mind off her MIA boyfriend. Then there’s the helpful narration of rogue paranormal investigator Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), which exists only to connect glaringly obvious dots: “That explains the guy this morning—and I have a bad feeling that’s what happened to the others!” And yet Alone in the Dark still doesn’t make much sense. Once the setup is laboriously laid out—something about 20 orphans who disappeared a couple of decades ago and a door that allowed “evil to slip through”—all attempts at exposition stop, and the movie turns into a sort of Jurassic Park with wraithlike, “electricity-disturbing” raptors, machine guns, a few zombies, and lots of death metal (except during a completely abrupt and gratuitous sex scene, which is tastefully accompanied by Neneh Cherry and Youssou N’Dour). Slater carries the movie on tank-topped shoulders, sincerely yelling lines such as “Don’t be insane!” Reid’s contributions, meanwhile, are mainly abdominal, but her curator also looks puzzled a lot and at a pivotal moment remarks, “Looks like we’re going to war.” When Tara Reid starts explaining things, you know they couldn’t get any stupider.

—Tricia Olszewski

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