Extraterrestrial Review

Posted: September 29, 2014 in 2014 Fantasy FilmFest, Horror, Reviews, Science Fiction
Tags: , ,

extraterrestrial1There are about 30 minutes of cinematic gold in the new science fiction-horror flick Extraterrestrial, scenes good enough to meet the expectations raised by the smart, sleek trailer for the film and give rise to the hope that The Vicious Brothers may have hit on the elusive formula to provide the Alien on Earth mash-up that has eluded this genre to date. Unfortunately, Extraterrestrial runs for a too-long 106 minutes, meaning that the 30 minutes of genius are subsumed completely by a sub-standard storyline that renders the overall product unfortunately unpalatable.

The Vicious Brothers (and somehow that’s a name that evokes the joke about Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy – “Who calls him that? Himself, mostly”) consists of the Canadian collaborative writing and directing team of Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz, who are best known for Grave Encounters. Here, it’s a different kind of encounter, something closer to the third kind, if the cute little big-eyed, gray-green men from Spielberg-land were elongated into 7-foot, mind-controlling psychopathic stalker/killers.

It’s this psycho-in-the-woods conceit that ruins Extraterrestrial. We get a whip smart beginning that sees a distressed woman run out of the woods at night seeking shelter from a smart-ass redneck convenience store clerk who has just turned the door sign to closed and refuses to open the door. The only alternative is a phone booth – and nothing says 20th century quite like one of those – which provides her protection for exactly zero seconds. She disappears, the phone booth comes crashing down, and the movie is off to a slam-bam start, only to see its engine sputter and die almost immediately thereafter.

What comes next is every bad slasher movie never made in the 1980’s as a group of young people head off to a cabin in the woods. April (Brittany Allen) wanted a quiet weekend with boyfriend Kyle (Freddie Stroma), but he invited Seth (Jesse Moss), Melanie (Melanie Papalia), and Lex (Anja Savcic) to come along to make it a party. Aside from gender and Seth’s rampant douchieness, the five are indistinguishable. They catch the attention of local law enforcement almost immediately and then stumble onto the pot growing operation of neighbor Travis (Michael Ironside). Meanwhile, all the narrative momentum slowly drains away, leaving a vague sense of disappointment and a growing frustration. The action briefly revs up again with the crashing of a UFO, and Travis’s subsequent explanation of the treaty between Earth and the aliens, established after Roswell. Then it’s back to the slasher film conventions with the aliens playing the role of Jason Vorhees/Michael Myers.

The film shows its potential when April and Kyle wind up on the mothership, but it’s a case of too little and too late. Ironside brings his “A” game to the role as the ass-kicking pot farmer, and the local sheriff and deputy are appropriate to the roles, but the five sausage casings masquerading as the central characters provoke a limited gamut of emotions ranging from indifference to annoyance. The special effects are surprisingly good here, and while none break new ground, the visuals are strong enough to maintain the willing suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately, the script does not match the effects.

The perfect example of technique exceeding story comes at the very end with a masterful pull back shot as “Spirit in the Sky” plays on the soundtrack. Unfortunately, the narrative impact of what is being shown on the screen is virtually nil.

Two stars.

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