“Alone in the Dark” centers on a small New Jersey community, where Dr. Dan Potter is assigned to work as a new doctor at “The Haven”, a mental institution outside of town, run by Dr. Leo Bain (Donald Pleasance). The third floor of the institution homes a group of very insane, murderous men, who are under careful watch. But when a blackout occurs and the entire area loses it’s electricity, the electrical powering that keeps the men behind closed doors is of no help. The murderous men escape from the Haven, and head towards town, where they begin a murderous rampage before reaching Dr. Potter’s new home.
Not to be confused with the 2005 creature horror flick of the same name, “Alone in the Dark” boasts a fairly unique premise that hasn’t been used (town crazies let loose to wreak havoc on the city after an electrical shortage). If you ask me, I thought this was a fairly original idea for a horror movie, and a clever one at that; taking into consideration the time this film was made, this was a fresh idea. The problem here is that the film lags quite a bit, and really for no good reason really; one would think character development would fall in place here, but not really. It plods around aimlessly for about 45 minutes before really kicking in, which was a bit of a disappointment, because, if written better, this could have been a much more frightening movie. The idea of lunatics sieging a local house during a blackout is terrifying – it’s too bad this film wasn’t.
Aside from that, it does have some positives. For one, the acting is quite good. Donald “Dr. Loomis” Pleasance plays the lead doctor of the institution perfectly, in a role that is similar to his in the “Halloween” series, but a bit different. Martin Landau and Jack Palance play a couple of the town psychos flawlessly – they’re menacing but strangely funny as well, and this balance works. There are a couple of nice scare sequences (including the babysitter and her boyfriend in the bed ordeal), and above all, this film does manage to be fairly entertaining despite its dragging feet. The ending is also quite quirky, but it flows with the rest of the film’s tone and was a nice little laugh to end on.
Overall, “Alone in the Dark” is a slightly above-average horror/thriller that is worth seeing at least once. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the premise, quirky campiness, and decent acting make it a watchable horror movie. It’s not your usual slasher flick, and for that I have to give it some credit. Not bad, not great, but just above the usual, if not a little different from. Worth a rental, you may enjoy it.