I didn’t know what to expect when I first read the description of Extraterrestrial—I’m not a huge alien-horror-film fan because the thought of aliens scares the shit out of me. Honestly, when I saw this was another The Vicious Brothers creation, that was enough to get me interested. Their first two movies Grave Encounters and Grave Encounters 2 successfully shut down my plans to tour any haunted locations. Despite that, I was ready to be scared again.
The set up is cliché: the almost happy couple, April (Brittany Allen) and Kyle (Freddie Stroma), make plans to spend the weekend at a cabin in the woods of a small town. Kyle invites Mel (Melanie Papalia), April’s best friend; Seth (Jesse Moss), the annoyingly funny loudmouth and Seth’s new ditsy girlfriend, Lex (Anja Savcic). On the way to the cabin, Seth causes some trouble, which leads the group to meet the Sheriff (Gil Bellows); by looking at him you can tell he’s going through a tough time. Soon after arriving at the cabin, April and Mel run into April’s old family friend, Travis, played by the great and always crazy Michael Ironside.
Later that night, after witnessing a ball of fire fly out of the sky and crash in the distance, the group decides to go check it out—great idea. Shit goes down hill from there: an alien is shot and a pack of pissed off aliens make it their duty to hunt the group down.
Though the characters are one sided, the actors are believable and play their parts well—by the end of the movie I wanted Seth to die and the couple to live happily ever after. We learn very little about the main characters’ backgrounds other than they like to smoke, drink, and they are in college. Regardless of what we know (or don’t know) about them, it was nice to see them make some smart moves to get the hell out of dodge. When I yelled at them to “Get in the car and leave!” they actually listened; I was quite pleased. You get a little insight into the Sheriff’s background and you feel bad for him, but not enough to make you really care.
Travis’ crazy conspiracy theory explanation of the alien’s presence is a nice change from the usual “we’re aliens, we can do whatever we want because our planet is dying/we’re bored/uh, we’re freakin’ aliens” explanation.
The film is more tense than scary—though I did have alien nightmares that night. With the help of sound and light, the tension is built up successfully: glaring white and heavy red lights imitate the UFO’s presence and give the feeling of hopelessness. It has its scary moments; however, they are a little predictable: there’s something behind you, alien; there’s something above you, alien; don’t look through there, alien; etc. I still jumped, but that’s about all.
The film does not look low budget at all. Very little special effects were used, which I love and appreciate. I didn’t like the found-footage-styled scenes; you know, like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity. They seem like a last minute addition and didn’t help the film; luckily they disappear as the action builds up. The aliens. You get to see the aliens and they look creepy-good and real. Their grey bodies are long and thin, and the eyes are large black pools on their expressionless faces.
The ending disappointed me. I was hoping for something different—it would have been so cool—but the last 5 – 10 minutes are drawn out and corny. I get the feeling it was done on purpose.
As I watched the movie, I couldn’t tell if The Vicious Brothers wanted this film to poke fun at the horror genre, be a legit thriller or a mix of both. Maybe they were trying to create a scary horror-spoof. Travis’ exaggerated crazy-guy-in-the-woods character is the complete opposite from the Sheriff’s gloom or the group’s desperate attempt to save themselves. Also, death by butt probe? Gotta be a spoof, right? Despite the confusion, I enjoyed Extraterrestrial—more than I thought I would. I laughed, I jumped and I got a little twist.This film gave me a much needed break from the slew of paranormal films that have come out recently. I just wish it ended my way.
Extraterrestrial will be released at New York’s IFC Center and additional U.S. theaters on November 21, 2014.