A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a horror film with constant, intense, graphic violence. Many characters are killed in a wide variety of creative manners, including being impaled. There are monsters and other grisly images. Characters use some strong language and there is a moderately explicit sexual situation.
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What's the story?
A child escapes from an orphanage when a scientist is taking many other children for medical experiments -- for the future of the species, the scientist proclaims. Years later, that runaway child, Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), is a detective who explores supernatural and paranormal events. He's been assigned to investigate the secrets of the Abskani, an ancient tribe whose worship of demonic forces gave them incredible powers. The Abskani seem to be poised to return to take over the world, Carnby must turn to the one person who has the knowledge to stop them — his former girlfriend, archeologist Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid).
Is it any good?
There's something far scarier about ALONE IN THE DARK than its CGI monsters, whose lack of any apparent weight makes them seem as threatening as the floating Clifford balloon in the Macy's parade. What's scary is the premise: it's based on a computer game by Atari. Yes, video games can have ominous atmosphere and relentless bad guys, but they seldom provide much by way of dialogue, character, or plot. You know, those things in movies that make up for the absence of a joystick that enables the player to blow stuff up. There are a couple of good "boo!" surprises, a couple of cool fight moves, and some gross-out visuals, but they keep getting lost under the cardboard dialogue, the throbbing bass accompaniment to both a sex scene and a shoot-out, and the absence of that thing we often look for in movies -- what is it again? Oh, yes, acting.
If I almost forgot that for a minute, it's because everyone in the movie seems to have forgotten it, too. Slater just appears embarrassed, understandable in these circumstances. And if our expectations for Tara Reid are low, also understandable in these circumstances, she still does not quite manage to live up to them. The pixels in the CGI monsters give a more believable performance than she does. Preposterously cast as an archeologist, with her hair pulled back and drugstore black-rimmed specs on her nose, she delivers her lines as though she is calling for another round of Mai Tais for the house. And no one seems to have explained to her that in English, the interrogative is usually expressed with a rising inflection.
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