Dir: Uwe Boll. US. 2004.96mins.

Feeling like a throwbackto the video quickies of the late 1980s, Alone In The Dark, from Germandirector Uwe Boll, is an amusingly cheesy screen version of the popular Atarivideo game of the same name. Economical screen versions of video game hits havesometimes worked well in the past - the two Resident Evil films are themost recent examples - but this ham-fisted offering will satisfy only the mostloyal and undemanding of game and genre fans. With three recognisable (thoughsomewhat less than hot) names heading the cast, the film's best chances are inthe video marketplace.

The video market is probablythe primary motivation for the wide US theatrical release it received at theweekend through Lions Gate Films. But the wide launch looks to have been arisky move: while brand recognition and trailers that make the movie seemscarier than it is produced some level of interest from older (thanks to an Rrating) teens and twentysomethings, the film's theatrical potential seems tohave been quickly exhausted, taking $2.5m from 2,124 screens.

Theatrical potential may notexist at all in many international territories, though the German connection -the film did post-production work in the country too - may help in that part ofthe world (as it did on the Constantin-produced Resident Evil films).

The movie is apparently onlyloosely based on one of the more recent editions of the Alone In The Darkgame and the background is laid out in a comically long opening text scrollthat's helpfully recited by a gloomy narrator. The enemy facing freelanceparanormal investigator Edward Carnby (Slater), we just about gather, is a raceof evil monsters, some of them taking human form, released into our world by anancient American civilization. Edward's allies against the beastly creaturesare anthropologist Aline (Reid, from the American Pie movies) and formercolleague Commander Richards, now head of a secret government paranormalinvestigation bureau.

The screenplay, by ElanMastai (who previously wrote kids' film MVP2: Most Vertical Primate) andfirst timers Michael Roesch and Peter Scheerer, spins out a vaguely coherentstoryline that touches on Edward's painful childhood before turning into amelange of elements from Alien, Starship Troopers, The Mummyand countless zombie flicks. The cliche-ridden dialogue frequently turns thefilm into an unwitting genre parody.

Boll - who previously madethe 2003 video game adaptation The House Of The Dead - handlesindividual action scenes reasonably well but his odd sense of timing andrefusal to streamline the plot do little to make the story more compelling.

The action set pieces areshot to create a sense of chaos that hides the often cut-price effects. And theCG work that brings the Alien-like-- but rarely scary -- monsters tolife is no better than it has to be.

Among the performers, Slaterlooks uneasy trying to swagger through the proceedings in his standard issueaction hero leather coat and Reid doesn't come close to convincing, either asan action heroine or as a museum curator. Dorff (last seen in Cold CreekManor) puts most energy into the film, but the energy only serves tospotlight the collection of cliches that make up his role.

Prod cos: Brightlight Pictures, Herold Prods, Boll KG Prods
US dist:
Lions GateFilms
Intl sales:
InteractiveFilm Sales
Exec prods:
Uwe Boll,Wolfgang Herold
Elan Mastai,Michael Roesch, Peter Scheerer
Mathias Neumann
Ed: RichardSchwadel
Prod des: Tink
Main cast:
ChristianSlater, Tara Reid, Stephen Dorff