Sunday, May 26, 2013

Horror Film Review

Altered (2006):  Alien abduction flick that was originally meant to be a horror comedy entitled Probed.  Now that I've seen it, I think it's a fabulous idea and could have been quite groovy.  But, no.  They went the straight horror route for reasons passing understanding.  It's not an apocalyptically awful movie.  I just think it had the potential to be so much more.

We start with Duke, Otis, and Cody in the woods at night.  These three less than bright guys are armed with a homemade harpoon gun and hunting what we discover is an alien.  Much to their own surprise, they bag one, toss it the back of a van and then don't know what to do with it.  Duke decides they should take it to Wyatt because Wyatt always knows what to do.  Here's the backstory:  15 years earlier, these four plus Cody's little brother were abducted, experimented on, and then released.  Except for Cody's brother who died.  Wyatt was kept longer than the others and has some kind of connection to the aliens.  Consequently, he holed up in the middle of nowhere keeping all manner of weapons and self-defense plans at the ready.  He's not terribly pleased to see Duke and company pull into his driveway.  Turns out if you kill one of these evil E.T.'s, spaceships come and mankind goes the way of the dodo.  They dump it in Wyatt's garage and soon afterwards, the film takes on a Hitchcockian flavor.  Wyatt's girlfriend Hope freaks and calls 911 before they can stop her.  The alien takes control of her mind for a short time prompting the guys to bound and gag her.  During a struggle, Cody get bitten and slowly starts changing into...something icky.  They lock him in the bathroom.  Then the sheriff (James Gammon) shows up right after the alien gets loose in the garage.  There's some decent tension as Wyatt tries to act normal and get rid of him.  Of course, the alien got into the house and attacks Hope and Otis.  Result?  Violent pandemonium.  Basically all hell breaks loose.  Hope and Wyatt decide to take seriously wounded Otis to the hospital and return the recaptured and also seriously wounded alien back where it was originally caught.  Duke pulled a switcheroo, however, and kept the alien with plans for "payback" (torture).  Yeah, that doesn't work out very well.  Wyatt races back and has his final confrontation with their kidnappers.  It's quite...explosive.  It seems Wyatt had created a failsafe measure.  Effective, if not fucking crazy.

A few things.  Wyatt is played by Adam Kaufman and could be C. Thomas Howell's brother. It's spooky.  There are no flashback sequences to when the guys were abducted and we only find out about it in bits and pieces as the film goes along.  This, I feel, is a mistake but an understandable one.  It's not like they had Spielberg money to make this.  They would have had to pay more actors, teenage ones at that, and also pay for a lot more special effects.  Another mistake, in my opinion, was the ending.  Throughout the movie, we're told if an alien is killed, earth is toast.  No toast.  My biggest complaint is a familiar one.  Cocking of guns.  Every time the situation gets tense, someone pumps the shotgun that's already been pumped.  Or worse, we hear the sound of a pistol's hammer being cocked.  But the pistol is a semi-automatic, not a revolver.  Christ, that bugs me. 


Acting:  James Gammon is always fun to watch.  Kaufman does well enough.  The others...well, I've seen worse.
Story:  Besides some truly eye-rollingly bad dialogue, the writing is more or less sound.  As with most horror flicks, there are plot holes aplenty.
Direction:  No notable missteps. 
Production Values:  Made for $8 million so there aren't any pitfalls that normally plague low-budget films.  Not that you can tell, but they shot it in Florida. 
Gore/FX:  The gross-out factor is well above average.  I'm talking intestine spillage here.  Whatever Cody's turning into is nearly puke-inducing.  The alien FX aren't bad despite the fact that it's a small dude in a rubber suit. 
Scares:  One or two minor ones.
Ending:  No toast. There should have been toast.
Verdict:  Should you see Altered?  If you have a strong stomach, sure. It's an agreeable enough way to kill 88 minutes.  It might put you off bratwurst for a while, though.  Fair warning.

Rating:  3 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment