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Alone in the Dark II (2008)

Vivendi Entertainment
DVD Released: 1/26/2010

All Ratings out of
Movie: No Stars
Video: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/24/2010

What do James Cameron, Richard Franklin, and Jeannot Szwarc have in common? They were all tapped to direct sequels to classic films (Aliens, Psycho II, and Jaws 2). Talk about pressure! Michael Roesch and Peter Scheerer were given the opposite opportunity. They had the assignment of directing the sequel to Alone in the Dark, a movie which has a whopping 1% on rottentomatoes.com. So, they had nowhere to go but up. What could go wrong? Let's check out Alone in the Dark II and find out.

If you are a frequent visitor to this site, you know that the second paragraph is were I provide a synopsis of the film's plot. Well, I'm not sure if I can do that this time, as I'm still not sure what Alone in the Dark II was about. The movie opens with three people, Willson (Michael Pare), Parker (Jason Connery) and Turner (Natassia Malthe) running through Central Park and then hiding in a decrepit men's room, where they are attacked by something. Parker then contacts Edward Carnby (Rick Yune), and Carnby is accidentally stabbed with an ancient dagger. Natalie (Rachel Specter) and Boyle (Ralf Moeller) take Carnby to Dexter's (Bill Moseley) house, where he is treated for his wounds. Being stabbed with the dagger causes Carnby to have visions, which then causes a witch to show up. This witch has pestered Natalie and Dexter's family for years and now she's back for revenge. Seeking help from Abner Lundbert (Lance Henriksen), the group tries to figure out how to stop the witch.

The Alone in the Dark films are supposedly based on the video game series of the same name, but they have little in common save for the presence of a character named Edward Carnby (who was played by Christian Slater in the first film). Alone in the Dark shared some traits with the game Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare and the most recent game in the series, simply titled Alone in the Dark was set in Central Park, so we get some mention of that locale in Alone in the Dark II. The first film was directed by Uwe Boll. Search for that name on the internet and you'll see that he's regarded as a modern-day Ed Wood, and many consider him to be the worst director in the world. So, as stated above, Roesch and Scheerer have nothing to lose, right. Well, as it turns out, they have worked with Boll for years and they have learned either nothing or everything from him, depending on how you look at it.

I had planned on writing that much of Alone in the Dark II reminded me of a student film, but that might be an insult to student films. If you didn't grasp this from the above synopsis, the movie makes no sense whatsoever and what little plot there is is both threadbare and confusing at the same time. The movie has basically no connection to the first film, save for the fact that they both have Edward Carnby in them, although this Carnby does not appear to be a paranormal investigator. There were many times (the majority of the film, to be honest) when I wondered if the actors had any idea what they were saying. As we know, most films are shot out of order, I just kept imagining that the director's were saying, "Don't worry -- it will make sense when we edit it together." But, it doesn't. For example, there's a scene where Carnby has a vision and he reports that he sees a lab. But, in the film, we can see his vision and he's seeing a cave. Could there be a lab in a cave? Sure, why not, but that doesn't make much sense. This lab/cave is finally revealed in the finale and I think that it's supposed to be like the treasure chamber from National Treasure, except that this is a 10 x 12 room.

Savvy horror fans will note that Alone in the Dark II is rated PG-13. Is this because it's yet another wimpy movie aimed at teens. No, it's because nothing happens in the movie which would cause it to get a stronger rating. There's no gore, there's no monsters, and there's nothing remotely creepy about it. The movie doesn't have one redeeming feature and the 91 minute running time felt like years. I thought that they couldn't make a movie worse than Alone in the Dark. I was wrong.

Wait a minute...there is one redeeming feature about the film. I don't condone drinking games, most likely because I don't understand them, but Alone in the Dark II was made to be one. Simply drink anytime someone says "dagger". You'll be drunk in the first 10 minutes of the movie.

Alone in the Dark II drives a station wagon from the 1970s on DVD courtesy of Vivendi Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 (although the end credits are 1.78:) and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is fairly sharp and clear, but, true to the title, it is dark and the action is hard to make out at times. The picture shows a slight amount of grain, but no defects from the source material. The colors look OK, but again, with the darkness, it's hard to tell. The DVD offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The dynamic range on this dark is in desperate need of adjustment. I immediately noticed that the track had pretty good surround sound and subwoofer effects, especially for a low-budget movie like this. However, they are far louder than the dialogue. So, if you want to hear what the characters are saying (not that it would help the movie), be prepared to ride the volume control.

The Alone in the Dark II DVD contains only a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Co-writers/Co-Directors Michael Roesch & Peter Scheerer and actor Bill Moseley. "Behind the Scenes" (14 minutes) is a refreshing change of pace, as it doesn't contain any clips from the movie. Instead, it is packed with on-set footage and comments from the cast and filmmakers. Now, their comments have to be taken at face value, but it's better than watching clips from a movie which we've just seen. "Cast Interviews" (24 minutes) offers 10 brief chats with the primary actors, who discuss their characters and their experiences on the film.

Review Copyright 2010 by Mike Long