0 StarsEd Johnson-Ott

In a perfect world, movie reviewers would enter a theater clear of any preconceptions of the film they are about to see. Their critical assessment would be an honest reflection of their reaction to the movie, written without regard of the opinions of others. Christian Slater

Alas, we don't live in a perfect world. Our president fancies himself to be an agent of God, our teachers remain shamefully underpaid and Jay Leno continues to get better ratings than David Letterman.

Too often, critics fall prey to a pack mentality. A scathing review of some upcoming movie by a publicity-hungry writer appears on the Internet. Another critic reads said review and writes an even nastier one. Other reviewers read the pieces and the feeding frenzy begins.

Sometimes, the bouts of journalistic King of the Hill result in hapless movies receiving far harsher treatment than they deserve. Remember Gigli, the hitman romantic comedy starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Sure, the film was generally lame, but it was simply one of many bad films that came out in 2003.

Which brings us to the video-game-based action movie Alone in the Dark. As of this writing, 76 reviews of the film have been collected at the Rotten Tomatoes movie Web site and 75 of them are resoundingly negative (the one nominally positive review was written by a young woman in dire need of a remedial English class).

But no injustice has been done to the filmmakers in this case. Alone in the Dark really is as lousy as they say it is. In fact, the only entertainment one will get from this movie is reading the bad reviews.

So let's do that.

With a nod to the director, Nicholas Schager of Slant Magazine says, "Saying Uwe Boll's Alone in the Dark is better than his 2003 American debut House of the Dead is akin to praising syphilis for not being HIV."

In reference to the unintentionally funny looooong crawl that opens the movie, Philadelphia Inquirer critic David Hiltbrand writes, "Never trust a movie that opens with a written introduction scrolling by that's longer than the collected works of Tom Clancy."

But wait, you say, what about the story? According to Pete Croatto of filmcritic.com, "Trying to rehash this plot is like trying to describe a Jackson Pollock painting while drunk."

Minneapolis Star Tribune critic Colin Covert adds, "If you took the 100 worst ideas ever conceived for a science-fiction film, rattled them around in a Lotto tumbler and spilled them out onto the screen at random, you could not produce a more asinine hodgepodge than Alone in the Dark."

For those who simply must know, the story deals with adult orphans, an abandoned gold mine and a door between good and evil. Oh, and it has monsters.

Pardon me, you say, surely stars Christian Slater, Tara Reid and Stephen Dorff bring something positive to the mix. Well, um ... no. "The three stars have seen better days, but I'd like to think they could still do something classier and more dignified than this. Like gay porn," says possibly homophobic Flipside Movie Emporium critic Rob Vaux.

Special attention is reserved for the female member of the trio. "Alone in the Dark co-stars perpetual party-girl Tara Reid as an archeologist. That alone should give you some clue as to how bad this movie is," states Bob Townsend of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Isn't this fun?

Sadly, we have limited space and I need to wrap this up. Ah, but which quote deserves the final spot? Perhaps Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel, who writes, "Too stupid to watch, too loud to nap through, Alone in the Dark shows just how tenuous Plan Nine From Outer Space's hold on that 'worst movie ever' title really is."

Good try, but the best bottom line comes from Peter Howell of the Toronto Star, who states, "Alone in the Dark is so awful, anyone who spends 10 bucks seeing it ought to get 11 bucks change and a written apology from the director and cast."