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MOVIE REVIEW

Awful 'Dark' should be relegated to obscurity

Think of the lamest horror movie you've ever seen. Now think of Tara Reid in the lamest horror movie you've ever seen. See how much worse it could have been?

That, folks, is the level of pee-yew we're talking when we evaluate ''Alone in the Dark," a thrill-less mess of a movie based on a video game, starring ''American Pie" alum Reid and once-promising actor Christian Slater as the last best hopes for saving humankind.

So let's just get through this quickly, shall we?

Production notes tell us that the creator of Atari's H.P. Lovecraft-inspired ''Alone in the Dark" fourth installment (''The New Nightmare") handpicked German director Uwe Boll for the game's film adaptation because Boll recently brought Sega's ''House of the Dead" to the big screen.

Apparently it didn't matter that ''House of the Dead" is roundly considered an unwatchable movie, or that online chat rooms are full of angry postings from horror fans and video gamers who label Boll a hack. This filmmaker has found his talent-defying niche, and more of his video-game adaptations (including ''BloodRayne") are in the works, like it or not.

In ''Alone in the Dark," Boll's organizational and creative shortcomings are made all the more insufferable by a laughable yet unfunny script cobbled together by fledgling screenwriters Elan Mastai, Michael Roesch, and Peter Scheerer. The plot involves an ancient tribe of demon-worshipers, semi-invisible lizard-like creatures trapped between worlds, orphans who are the victims of heinous scientific experiments, greedy treasure hunters, and top-secret government agents.

Slater plays Edward Carnby, a paranormal investigator who was among the victimized orphans, though his memory of those days is spotty. All he knows is that ''being afraid of the dark is what keeps most of us alive." Well, that and the vast arsenal of weapons he keeps in his loft apartment for impromptu firefights with monsters, zombies, and the federal storm troopers he used to work for.

Reid is a brainy anthropologist named Aline, which is totally believable because she sometimes wears glasses and has her hair pulled back in a bun, plus she purses her lips before she says such informed things as, ''Some doors are meant to stay shut." Aline and Ed are old flames who reignite amid the supernatural chaos, sort of like an unwanted dumpster fire.

There's a whole head-splitting, multi-tentacled story line that requires several unintentionally hilarious paragraphs of introduction read out loud at the top of the film. It's beyond pointless to try to reconstruct or deconstruct that nonsense here.

''Alone in the Dark" presents splatter fans with garden-variety gore, and gives action-horror fans loud, unscary special effects (no more frightening when glimpsed in flashing light, it can be noted) rather than genuine suspense or bang.

Tara Reid fans, though, get the promise of a sequel.

Janice Page can be reached at jpage22@hotmail.com.

Alone in the Dark

1/2 *

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