Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 2009 // 91 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // February 5th, 2010
I wish I'd been at the meeting where Alone in the Dark II was green-lit. I mean the first film, based on a video game and directed by schlockmiester Uwe Boll, wasn't exactly a hit (and, truth be told, had very little to do with its video game source), so Alone in the Dark II seems like a strange idea. It's especially strange, given that Alone in the Dark II has very little to do with the video game series, either. So we have a film that has nothing to do with its source material, trading on a name that was completely besmirched by the first film, and yet it got funded. I obviously don't understand how these things work. More significantly, it got enough funding to hire veteran actors like Lance Henricksen and Danny Trejo. Sadly, the film can't live up to their tremendous talents.
Alone in the Dark II follows veteran detective Edward Carnby (Rick Yune, Die Another Day) as he is enmeshed in a decades old feud between a witch and some witch-hunters over a stolen dagger that belongs to the witch.
It's no surprise that I wasn't expecting much from Alone in the Dark II, but there was a moment about a third of the way through that I thought it might actually be able to pull off being a decent movie. It was an almost perfect B-movie cast, all cooking together in a way that was surprising and delightful. Bill Moseley, Lance Henricksen, Rick Yune, and Danny Trejo all working together and playing an emotionally charged couple of scenes together was a delight to behold. If they keep this up, I thought, then Alone in the Dark II is definitely going on my list of favorites.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and the machinations of the horrible plot (evil witch attacking people who get cut by the dagger while the team tries to hunt her, with predictable back story elements) break up this wonderful team of actors. Instead the film relies on some special effects and the idea of the witch to make it through the film. It's not enough, even thought the effects are quite a bit better than I would have thought for a film of this budget. Instead of keeping the excellent actors together, we're treated to some cheesy reversals and an anti-climatic showdown with the witch. It's all a bit "been there, done that."
Alone in the Dark II gets a pretty decent release on DVD. The video is better than I would have expected from a film of this budget. The film is generally pretty dark, and the transfer keeps everything pretty visible with no serious compression or authoring problems that I saw. The audio is fairly generic, but the dialogue is pretty clear and the surround effects get a bit of a workout during the "spooky" scenes.
The extras are fairly extensive for a film of this budget as well. There's an audio commentary with the directors and actor Bill Moseley that covers production info in a relaxed manner. Then, there's a behind-the-scenes featurette that mixes some interviews with the cast and crew with behind-the-scenes footage. It's not the most informative feature, although some of the footage is interesting. The interview footage is excerpted from longer versions, and some of those longer interviews are presented elsewhere on the disc. Although they're not entirely uncut, they do offer a more extended conversation with most of the main actors in the film, and it's great to hear someone as experienced as Lance Henricksen talk about working on such a low-budget picture.
I really can't believe I'm saying this, but Alone in the Dark II had a lot of potential. The casting choices are generally perfect and may have been able to overcome the tired plot. As it is, there's about 30 minutes worth of excellent B-movie goodness lurking in this film. That's not quite enough to recommend it for anything other than rental, but fans of the actors might also enjoy some of the interview footage with the stars in the special features.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13